BDS Claims Victory after Alstom Project Derails

The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement has declared victory against the Alstom group after it lost a nearly $10-billion bid for part of a railway project in Saudi Arabia.

On Wednesday, authorities announced that several Spanish companies beat the French rival to the contract, which will build a high-speed railway on the Muslim pilgrim route between Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

The BDS National Committee says Alstom lost the Saudi Haramain Railway project following campaigning from a newly launched group called Karama, a European campaign to stop Alstom’s bid.

The 6.7-billion-euro contract went to the Al-Shoula Consortium of 12 Spanish companies, including state rail operator Renfe and Saudi firms Al Shoula and Al Rosan, Spanish and Saudi officials said.

Spain’s statement put the price at $9.3 billion.

"This huge victory will be celebrated in the BDS campaign worldwide," said Jamal Jumaa, a Stop the Wall coordinator and member of the BNC leadership, in a statement.

"We are hopeful that this will be the first of many decisions to kick Alstom out of the Arab world and beyond, sharply raising the price of its collusion in Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.”

The BNC has launched two campaigns against the Veolia and Alstom groups for their involvement in Israel’s Jerusalem Light Rail project, a train system being built on areas occupied illegally by Israel.

Boycott activists say the train line’s purpose is partially to cement Israel’s hold on the illegal settlements built on occupied land in and around Jerusalem, which Israel claims as its capital despite international objections.

Alstom suffered blows when a Swedish pension fund excluded it from its investment portfolio, as did the Dutch ASN Bank, due to involvement in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.

Saudi Arabia had come under pressure to drop Alstom since 2009.

“The campaign to derail Veolia and Alstom will continue until they have ended their complicity with Israeli apartheid, and have paid reparations for the damage their actions have caused," said Jumaa.

“The global Derail Veolia and Alstom campaign has sent a strong message to corporations aiding Israel’s violations of international law: the price of their complicity will be extremely high.”

The BDS campaign calls for applying boycotts against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law such as granting refugees their right of return and ending occupation and settlements as well as racial discrimination against its Palestinian citizens.

Alstom did not immediately respond Thursday to a request for comment.

(Maan News)

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