German firm helps Israel cement occupation with light rail

The German company TÜV NORD Group announced that it will test the technical safety of the first line of the controversial Jerusalem light rail project that critics say is being built in violation of Palestinian rights. The light rail project will connect West Jerusalem with several illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and is expected to enter into operation next spring.

The TÜV NORD Group is one of the world’s largest technical service providers and employs nearly 10,000 workers in more than seventy countries. In a 15 September press release, the company expressed its enthusiasm about its involvement in the light rail project and that it hopes to test the safety of future lines.

TÜV NORD Group’s involvement in the project will likely find it in hot water as has its French counterparts, the construction giants Veolia and Alstom. Activists and human rights observers say that the companies involved in the light rail project are directly implicated in maintaining Israel’s occupation of and settlement infrastructure in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank and its annexation of East Jerusalem are illegal under international law. This status has been affirmed by numerous UN resolutions and a 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice.

In addition to normalizing the occupation, TÜV NORD Group’s involvement in the light rail project is also contrary to its own principles against discrimination and racism, as the route is designed mainly to serve the needs of Israeli settlers. According to the spokesperson of CityPass Consortium, which is contracted with overseeing the light rail project, Palestinians and Jewish Israelis will not be integrated on the train.

“If Palestinians would want to make use of the light rail, both groups will not meet on the train, because of their different life patterns,” spokesperson Ammon Elian told Belgian researcher Karolien van Dyck in 2009. He added that the network of buses used by Palestinians made their integration into the tramline “redundant.”

 

Adri Nieuwhof

The Electronic Intifada

15 October 2010

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