A few weeks ago Egged Bus Systems, Israel’s largest public transportation company, lost a tender worth €190 million ($216 million) to the public transport department in northern Holland. Activists from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement launched a campaign against the company because of its involvement in the Israeli apartheid regime against the Palestinian people and its occupation, colonisation and settlement of their lands.
Egged was supposed to sign a 10-year contract to manage public bus routes in the northern region of the Netherlands and the capital Amsterdam with the Dutch district Government worth €19.1 million ($22.6 million) a year.
The Dutch Coalition of BDS activists in the Netherlands (DocP) expressed satisfaction at its success in pressuring the regional government to reject the Israeli company’s offer.
It pointed out that “the Dutch people can now board public buses without the support of a bus company that practices apartheid against the Palestinian people and moves between cities built on stolen Palestinian land.”
“The oppression and injustice that Palestinians are subjected to every day cannot be considered normal, and we are happy with the success of the BDS movement, which is growing in popularity and has achieved impressive results,” the coalition said.
Riya Hassan, European campaign coordinator for the National Palestinian Committee for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions congratulated the Dutch activists and said, “We congratulate the activists of the movement and the supporting institutions in the Netherlands who have stepped up their hard work and managed to expel an Israeli transport company that makes profit from apartheid, whether in roads and buses or settlements.”
She added, “You have helped us ensure that the Northern Netherlands Regional Council fulfills its obligations under international law by not contributing to gross Israeli violations of Palestinian rights.”
Egged operates the bus system for the Egged Cooperative Society of Israel, which is the largest public transportation operator. It provides around 55 per cent of the public transportation services to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including Jerusalem and the 1948 territories.
Four companies competed for the Public Transportation Administration tender in the Netherlands, including the winners, Dutch company Connexion, owned by the French group Veolia, which fully withdrew from the Israeli market in 2015 after the BDS campaigned against it for seven years, causing the loss of contracts estimated at more than €20 billion ($22.7 billion).