The Basque railway manufacturer CAF, together with the Israeli construction company Shapir, have been selected to build a new tram line in East Jerusalem. CAF will supply new tram units and refurbish existing ones on other lines. In addition, it will be in charge of the supply of signaling and energy systems and the maintenance of the units.
This infrastructure will be used to connect illegally built Israeli settlements on stolen Palestinian land and seeks to normalise the occupation and annexation of East Jerusalem. Successive UN resolutions recognise that the settlements and the annexation of East Jerusalem is illegal, as confirmed by the International Court of Justice in 2004. In addition, the settlements violate article 49 of the fourth Geneva Convention, which establishes that “the occupier cannot expel or transfer population to the occupied territory”, and article 53, which “prohibits the destruction of private and public property in the territories under occupation”. Both are gross violations of the Geneva Convention.
Many international experts have recognised that the Israeli government have created a system of apartheid, through the colonisation of Palestinian land since 1948 and systematic oppression of Palestinian people. Apartheid is recognised as a crime against humanity, in international law, by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
More than 100,000 hectares of Palestinian territory have been stolen to build settlements and Israel has already demolished over 50,000 Palestinian homes and structures. Only this years around 802 Palestinian structures were demolished, including the ones funded by the European governments. More than 600,000 Israeli settlers live on occupied Palestinian land, and 4.9 million Palestinians experience daily mobility restrictions. In the occupied Palestinian territories, the unemployment rate is around 30% and each year there are around 4.500 Palestinian political prisoners of which approximately 200 are children. These are just some of the many examples of the violation of Palestinian human rights perpetrated by the Israeli government.
The settlements and associated infrastructure of the occupation, including the Jerusalem Tram undermine the right to decent work for the Palestinians, by restricting their freedom of movement, access to land and resources and preventing a viable Palestinian economy. This contributes to the oPt having the second highest rate of unemployment in the World and the highest rate for women.
For all these reasons, the Work Council of CAF, which represents the workers of the company, has asked the company on two occasions not to build these trains, with an exemplary position, putting the defense of the rights of the Palestinian people before their own interests. It should also be noted that in the Basque Country there have been massive mobilizations in solidarity with the Palestinian people and against the tram that CAF is building in East Jerusalem, in which LAB, ELA, CCOO and ESK trade unions have participated. LAB and ELA, as the unions with representation in the Work Council of CAF, have ratified the decision adopted by their members and stated that they will continue to work in defense of the rights of the Palestinian people, both in CAF and in other spaces where they participate.
Many other trade unions and organisations across Europe are also mobilising their members and activists to call on CAF to respect international law and cease its complicity with the illegal settlements. Many organisations in the Spanish State, the UK and other countries are calling for CAF to be excluded from public tenders. Eight trade unions in Norway are even calling for the boycott of CAF. November 20 was the pan-European day of action, when over 4,000 emails were sent to CAF’s CEO, asking him to rescind the contract for the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail. The pressure will continue until CAF ends its complicity with Israel’s apartheid railway.