French engineering company Systra has withdrawn from part of Israel’s construction of a rail network in occupied Jerusalem, after its connection to the project was revealed by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).
A report released earlier this month found that three French companies had committed to aid in the construction of the Jerusalem light-rail, a network that aims to connect West Jerusalem to the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory of East Jerusalem, in blatant violation of international law. The plan would see the extension of an existing line and the creation of two new lines, all with the settlements as their endpoints.
Systra, which along with Egis Rail has a significant public sector majority share, faced questions from several trade unions, which denounced its involvement in the project.
Last week, FIDH received a response from Systra’s parent company at the European Works Council meeting, which stated: “Systra is withdrawing from the red and purple line of the Jerusalem light-rail”.
In a statement, FIDH hailed the move as a step in the right direction.
“While this statement lacks further specifics (Systra is currently committed to the construction of the blue line), its meaning is as clear to us as it was to the representatives of the trade union organisations present at the European Works Council: Systra is withdrawing from the Jerusalem light-rail. We salute this announcement as a first victory on a just path.”
“It is a path that we expect the other two companies involved … to follow as soon as possible,” the press release concluded.
At the report’s release, the FIDH had also condemned the French government as doubly liable for the involvement of companies;
“What are we to make of the French government’s inaction in the face of public sector entities participating in Israeli settlement activity, which is completely illegal, and which, incidentally, the French government has repeatedly condemned? It’s time to shift from words to action,” Bertrand Heilbronn, President of the France Palestine Solidarity Association (AFPS) said at the time.