Veolia & Alstom lawsuit (re Jerusalem rail project)

Jerusalem Light Rail, Credit: Matanya, Creative CommonsPour la version française de ce profil, cliquez ici.

In October 2007, Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS) and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) filed a lawsuit against Alstom and Veolia in the Tribunal de Grande Instance (Nanterre, France).  The plaintiffs alleged that the companies’ involvement in a consortium which contracted with the Israeli Government in July 2005 to construct and operate a light rail project in Jerusalem violated international law.  City-Pass Consortium was made up of Alstom, Alstom Transport, Veolia, and four Israeli companies.

The plaintiffs claimed the companies’ involvement in the light rail project contravenes international law by allegedly aiding and abetting Israel’s occupation and commission of war crimes, in relation to West Jerusalem.  The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants’ actions violate international humanitarian law and certain sections of the French Civil Code.  The plaintiffs sought an injunction to cancel the contract and halt construction of the light rail project.  In October 2007, the corporate defendants moved to dismiss the case and questioned the admissibility of AFPS’ requests to nullify the contract, arguing that it was outside the scope of French jurisdiction.

In April 2009, without reaching the merits of the case, the Nanterre Tribunal ruled that it was within its jurisdiction to hear the case.  It also ruled that the PLO could not be accepted as a co-plaintiff.  The Tribunal underlined that the defendants were not in a position to plead immunity, as corporate entities are not included as subjects of sovereign immunity.

Alstom and its subsidiary Alstom Transport, appealed the decision of the Tribunal de Grande Instance in November 2009.  Veolia did not contest the ruling; it sold its shares in the City Pass Consortium to Dan Bus Company in September 2009.

In December 2009, the Appeals Court upheld the rulings of the Tribunal de Grande Instance; emphasising that it had jurisdiction to hear the case.  In February 2010, Alstom appealed this decision (particularly, the jurisdiction of the French courts) to the French Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation).  In February 2011, the Supreme Court rejected the appeal.

In May 2011, the Nanterre Tribunal ruled on the merits and rejected the plaintiffs’ arguments to cancel the contract.  AFPS and PLO appealed the decision.  The Appeals Court decision of 22 March 2013 declared that PLO could be accepted as co-plaintiff, but ruled the suit was inadmissible.  The court found that the international agreements in question create obligations between states, and could not be used to hold two private companies liable.  The court ordered AFPS and PLO to pay € 30,000 to each of the three companies to cover their expenses during the lawsuit.

The construction work of the tram has already been completed, and the tram started to operate in summer 2011.

- [FR] “Alstom: conforté par la justice pour le tramway de Jérusalem" Cercle Finance, 27 mars 2013
- [FR] “La décision du tribunal français sur le tramway de Jérusalem ne doit pas être acceptée”, Daniel Machover & Adri Nieuwhof, Electronic Intifada 29 juin 2011
“French firm contests ruling on rail project in Occupied Jerusalem”, Abbas Al Lawati, Gulf News, 13 Feb 2010
- “Jerusalem’s first light rail is test case in Palestinian boycott campaign”
, Karin Laub, Canadian Press, 29 Jan 2010
“French Court to Hear Israeli Tram Case”, David Gauthier–Villars, Wall Street Journal, 17 Apr 2009
“PLO disputes Jerusalem rail plan”, Rory McCarthy, Angelique Chrisafis, Guardian, 26 Oct 2007

 - Alstom:
- [FR] “Tramway de Jérusalem: la Cour d’Appel de Versailles tranche en faveur d’Alstom”, 27 mars 2013
- “Jerusalem tramway: French justice rules out the legal action against Alstom”, 27 Mar 2013

- Veolia : [FR] Dossier sur le projet de tramway de Jérusalem

- Association France Palestine Solidarité:
- [FR] Tramway colonial : un jugement incompréhensible de la cour d’appel, 25 Mar 2013
- [FR] L’état des procédures engagées sur le tramway de Jérusalem, 4 Dec 2012
- [FR] L’état des pro­cé­dures engagées par l’AFPS et l’OLP concernant le tramway de Jérusalem, 19 Sep 2012
- [FR] L’AFPS et l’OLP font appel du jugement du TGI de Nanterre du 30 mai 2011, 11 Jul 2011
- [FR] Tramway de Jéru­salem : le dossier peut être jugé sur le fond au Tri­bunal de grande ins­tance de Nanterre, 9 Feb 2010
- [FR] Action en justice de l’Afps (et de l’OLP) contre la construction et l’exploitation d’un tramway à Jérusalem-Est : suite à l’audience du 9 novembre 2009, 3 Dec 2009

- [FR] Cour d’appel de Versailles, France, [PDF],Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS), L’Organisation de Libération de la Palestine (OLP) c. S.A. Alstom, S.A. Alstom Transport, S.A. Veolia , 22 mars 2013
- [FR] Tribunal de Grande Instance, Nanterre, France [PDF]Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS), L’Organisation de Libération de la Palestine (OLP) c. S.A. Alstom, S.A. Alstom Transport, S.A. Veolia, 30 mai 2011

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Article
6 June 2008

Dutch bank agrees: Jerusalem tramway is illegal

Author: Adri Nieuwhof, The Electronic Intifada

...the managing director of SNS Asset Management, a division of the Dutch SNS Bank, sent me a letter explaining the bank's position on divesting from Veolia...[who is] build[ing] a tramway on...Palestinian land...constructed in open violation of international law...SNS Bank stated that "the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory is not consistent with international law. However, the bank does not consider the construction of the tramway as a direct, grave violation of human rights. Therefore excluding Veolia is considered disproportionate. Nevertheless, we see the activities as unwanted within the framework of a responsible peace process, and we will call upon Veolia not to engage with similar future projects..." The Bank added that it may still decide to divest in such a "trajectory of engagement," in case Veolia does not produce a satisfactory response...[also refers to ASN Bank, Alstom, Sarasin Bank (owned by Rabo Bank)]

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Article
20 November 2007

PLO takes Veolia Transport and Alstom to court in France

Author: Adri Nieuwhof and Maria Lherm, The Electronic Intifada

[In]...October 2007...Veolia Transport, and Alstom were taken to court by Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS), because of their involvement in the Israeli light rail...that is planned to link West Jerusalem with the ring of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank...Now the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO)...has joined AFPS in the legal action...[The] Tramway project violates international [the Geneva Convention of 1949] and French law...Amnesty International in France invited Veolia to discuss the tramway in December 2005. The company refused the invitation...Alstom and Veolia...dispute the competence of the court to judge the case...[and]...state that also the Palestinians would benefit from the tramway.

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Article
26 October 2007

PLO disputes Jerusalem rail plan

Author: Rory McCarthy & Angelique Chrisafis, Guardian [UK]

The Palestinians have begun legal action against two prominent French companies [Alstom, which will provide the train carriages, and Veolia Transport, the public transport operator] in an attempt to stop work on a contested light-railway project in Jerusalem...the Palestine Liberation Organisation...argues that the railway will breach the fourth Geneva convention by providing infrastructure to Jewish settlements on occupied land..."This tram will constitute at least an element in the expansion of the colonisation of East Jerusalem by the state of Israel," the Palestinian delegation said in a statement...Spokesmen for Alstom and Veolia said yesterday that they had no comment.

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Article
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Author: Benjamin Barthe, Le Monde

L'Organisation de libération de la Palestine (OLP) hausse le ton contre les entreprises françaises Alstom et Veolia-Connex impliquées dans la construction du tramway de Jérusalem, dont la légalité est fortement contestée...Arguant du fait que le tramway est "hors la loi" parce qu'il relie au centre de la ville sainte trois colonies de Jérusalem-Est que le droit international considère comme illégales, l'AFPS [l'Association France-Palestine Solidarité] appelle la justice à annuler le contrat...Informé par Le Monde de la démarche de l'OLP, un porte-parole d'Alstom, qui assure la fourniture des rames, s'est contenté de déclarer que "le contrat a été signé avec une société de droit privée" et que "le tracé prévoit de desservir des quartiers palestiniens". Pour sa part, le service de communication de Veolia-Connex, en charge de l'exploitation du tramway, n'a pas souhaité réagir. Les experts des deux sociétés se réservent peut-être pour un éventuel procès.

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