Victory for Palestinian-led boycott campaign as Veolia sells Israel assets

Palestinian campaigners have welcomed the news that French multinational Veolia has completed the sale of its water, waste, and energy activities in Israel, following a global campaign against the company’s role in illegal Israeli settlements.

The completion of the sale of its assets to Los Angeles-based Oaktree Capital Management LP was confirmed by the company last Thursday, following an agreement signed in July 2014. The transaction was completed after approval by the Israeli Antitrust Authority.

The deal reduces Veolia’s debt by $237 million, a divestment described by company Chief Financial Officer Philipppe Capron during a call with analysts in February as “a significant activity.”

Responding to the news, Mahmoud Nawajaa, the general coordinator of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), said that “the BDS movement is showing that there is a price to pay for participating in Israel’s colonisation of Palestinian land.”

Veolia became a target for activists due to its involvement in various projects serving illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, such as buses, landfill and wastewater treatment, and the Jerusalem Light Rail (JLR), which links settlements to West Jerusalem.

Two years after the boycott Veolia campaign was first launched in 2008, the company had already lost “important contracts” in the words of one official. In 2012, Veolia Israel’s CEOadmitted that many in the group believed “the company lost many contracts because of [the Jerusalem Light Rail].”

According to campaigners, 10 local authorities in Ireland and the UK barred Veolia from public contracts, while councils in at least 25 cities around the world opted not to award or renew contracts with Veolia following public campaigns.

In addition, its role in settlements also prompted investors such as the Dutch ASN Bank and the Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation to divest from Veolia.

While Veolia has confirmed it is “stepping back from Israel as a marketplace“, the company continues to be a shareholder in the JLR through Veolia Transdev. Nawajaa said the campaign against Veolia would continue until it fulfils its stated intention of selling its holding in the railway.