Edinburgh council to discuss Israel boycott

By Jessica Elgot, August 18, 2010
Green Party Councillor Maggie Chapman submitted the motion

Green Party Councillor Maggie Chapman submitted the motion

Edinburgh City Council is debating tomorrow (Thursday) whether to sever ties with a waste company, because it operates in Israel.

Green Party Councillor Maggie Chapman has submitted a motion calling for a boycott of any environmental services contracts for the French company Veolia, and has demanded that its current contracts are not renewed.
She is supported by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and some other Opposition councillors, including Labour’s Angela Blacklock - who submitted a second motion on the same issue.

Myer Green, co-founder of the Scottish Friends of Israel, said: “It’s a matter of grave concern for us. The war against Israel seems to have entered a new phase. It’s not violent but it’s encroaching on all walks of life.
The SPSC seemed to be professionally committed to the delegitimisation of Israel. It’s a very dangerous, slippery slope.”

He also expressed his concern about the growing campaign against Israel in Scotland, especially the unanimous decision by West Dunbartonshire Council in January 2009 to boycott all Israeli goods — a move which it voted to reaffirm this month.

Veolia is involved with the development of Jerusalem’s controversial light railway project that links Jerusalem with some West Bank settlements and is due to open in spring 2011. It also operates two bus services for Israeli settlers in the West Bank and a landfill site.

The company already runs the Seafield water treatment works in Edinburgh and is one of the final bidders for new environmental services contracts.

The motion is unlikely to be adopted because the 2006 Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations Act makes it illegal for councils to consider contracts based on their political or ethical connections, unless the company is acting illegally.

Hugh Humphries, secretary for the SPSC, said: “Veolia continues to play its part in the violence against the Palestinian people, it helps normalise a situation which is criminal. Edinburgh City Council should not have dealings with such a company.”

In June 2010 Swansea City Council passed a resolution to exclude Veolia from all future contracts and last year the SPSC led a campaign to boycott Leith Festival after it received a £3,000 grant from Veolia.

Last updated: 11:40am, August 18 2010