Statement by the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity CommitteeOn Pending St. Louis City Contract with Veolia Water
We are a diverse group of Palestinians, Israelis, Muslims, Jews, Christians, students, professors, artists,writers, environmental activists, union organizers, bakers, grandparents, and others in St. Louis united bya commitment to a lasting peace in Israel/Palestine based on freedom, justice, and equality, as part of alarger commitment to global justice.We were shocked to learn about private negotiations with Veolia Water on a contract to guide cost-cuttingfor the St. Louis Water Division. Veolia Water - North America is a subsidiary of Veolia Environnement(VE), a Paris-based multinational corporation and the largest water privatization business in the world. Itis infamous for poor environmental standards, anti-labor practices, privatizing public resources,mismanagement, corruption, and illegal activities in Israel/Palestine. Worldwide, consumers report thatVeolia consistently charges high rates, provides poor service, causes staff turnover, discourages water conservation, and fails to implement promised improvements. Its history reveals consistent prioritizationof private profit at the expense of the environment and public welfare.In Israel/Palestine, VE is involved in a myriad of ways with Israel’s illegal military occupation of Palestinian land and its systematic ethnic discrimination against the Palestinian people.VE’s Israeli subsidiary, Veolia Water - Israel, operates a wastewater treatment plant located in an illegalJewish-only settlement called Modiin Ilit, built on internationally-recognized Palestinian land in the WestBank. The Palestinian owners of the land on which this settlement was built have been violently drivenout. Two unarmed Palestinians from Bil’in, a Palestinian village on which Modiin Ilit was built, have been killed by the Israeli army as they protested nonviolently against the ongoing confiscation of their land and resources. Leaders and people of conscience from around the world, including the South Africananti-Apartheid leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have visited Bil’in to march in solidarity with thevillagers, yet Veolia continues to service the settlement and others like it.An Israeli subsidiary of Veolia Transdev, named Connex - Israel, operates settler buses through theoccupied West Bank, including two bus lines that use road 443, which is built partially on confiscatedland with portions closed entirely to Palestinians. A separate but unequal Palestinian road system is madeup of low grade roads snaking under Israeli settler highways, cut by checkpoints and physical barriersrestricting Palestinian freedom of movement. Last year, a group of Palestinian Freedom Riders attemptedto board buses operating on their own land and were violently removed and arrested. Veolia is not only profiting from segregation in Israel/Palestine; they are enforcing it.