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Veolia completes withdrawal from Israel, in victory for BDS campaign

French multinational company Veolia has sold all its last holdings in the Jerusalem Light Rail (JLR), thus completing its withdrawal from the Israeli market.

The news is being welcomed as an important victory by activists in the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, for whom Veolia has been a major target.

According to Who Profits, a research centre which documents and monitors companies doing business in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, the sale of Veolia’s holdings in the JLR was completed earlier this month.

Over the years, the operations of Veolia’s Israeli subsidiaries beyond the 1967 ‘Green Line’ included “the provision of public bus services to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the operation of a landfill in the occupied Jordan Valley, wastewater treatment facility for settlements’ sewage.”

These activities, along with the JLR that connects illegal Israeli settlements in Occupied East Jerusalem, made Veolia a high-profile target for BDS activists.

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

In July 2014, it was revealed that Veolia would be is selling its water, waste, and energy businesses in Israel. At the time, a company spokesperson stated that the company “would be stepping back from Israel as a marketplace.”

In April of this year, Veolia completed the sale of its water, waste, and energy assets in Israel to Los Angeles-based Oaktree Capital Management LP, a divestment described by company Chief Financial Officer Philipppe Capron in February as “a significant activity.”

That just left the company’s percentage stake in the JLR, the sale of which has completed Veolia’s withdrawal from the Israeli market.

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