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European Commission urged to withdraw patronage from Israeli water conference

The European Commission (EC) is being urged by dozens of trade unions to withdraw its patronage from an Israeli water conference being held later this month in Venice, Italy.

It is the first time that WATEC, a conference and exhibition, will be held in Europe.

Nearly 40 European trade unions, water and human rights networks and environmental groups from a dozen countries have signed a letter to European officials protesting EC support for the gathering.

According to the letter's signatories, the conference comes "at a time when Israel is cutting off water to Palestinian communities, leaving tens of thousands without access to water during the hottest time of the year."

Furthermore, WATEC includes "companies involved in and facilitating violations of international law."

By granting patronage to events sponsored by and involving companies and institutions operating in Israeli settlements, the signatories claim, the EC "is at odds with the European Union's own official position on settlements" and even "legitimates and encourages illegal activities that trample fundamental rights such as access to water, thereby reinforcing Israel's impunity."

The EC is encouraged to follow the lead of "European companies that have ended ties with Israeli companies and projects violating international law, including the Dutch companies Vitens and Royal Haskoning DHV, French companies Veolia, Safege and Poma, Ireland's CRH and Germany's Deutsche Bahn."

The letter follows a separate appeal by more than a dozen Palestinian agricultural and environmental organisations, including the Palestinian Farmers' Union and the Palestinian Environmental NGO Network, to Italian agricultural network Coldiretti, urging their Italian counterparts to withdraw sponsorship and participation from WATEC.

Europe & RussiaInternational OrganisationsIsraelItalyMiddle East
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