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Friday, April 17, 2009

French court to hear case against Jerusalem tram companies

A French court has decided that it has jurisdiction to hear a case brought by pro-'Palestinian' groups against two French companies that are part of the consortium building the tram lines here in Jerusalem. At this point, a lot of Jerusalemites are sick of the construction and just want our city back, but that's another story.

I've discussed this story at length before here. Below is a map (in Hebrew, sorry) of part of the tram system. Two years later, the court has decided that it has jurisdiction to hear the case.

An official of the tribunal of Nanterre near Paris said the court ruled late Wednesday that it does have jurisdiction in the case. The tribunal, however, rejected on technical grounds a request by the Palestine Liberation Organization to be a co-plaintiff, the court official said. PLO representatives didn't return calls seeking comment.

Now the court will start looking into the substance of the complaint unless Alstom and Veolia exercise their right to appeal within one month. The companies both said they had been notified of the ruling, and an Alstom spokesman added the company will take time to study the ruling before deciding whether to appeal.

"The tribunal has backed our arguments; it's a positive step," said the association's secretary-general, Sylviane de Wangen.

Alstom and Veolia -- along with Israeli partners -- are part of a consortium that first won the Jerusalem tramway contract in 2002. Alstom is providing cars and laying the track, while Veolia is due to operate the system for 30 years. The French and Israeli partners first struggled to secure financing for the $1 billion tram route, which straddles the old East-West boundary known as the "Green Line."
I have a number of comments on this story. First, most of the cars have already been provided. They are sitting in a yard in northeastern Jerusalem between the neighborhoods of French Hill and Pisgat Zev. You cannot see them when you drive by there, but you can see them if you ride by on a bus. We did that two weeks ago.

Second, about half the track has been laid. It probably would all have been laid already had the foolish consortium not used the wrong track, figured it didn't matter, and then had to rip it up and lay new track to make up for it.

Third, if I were a French corporation, I'd be rooting for these companies to win. The last thing I would want would be to have my country's courts looking into the political situation in every country in which I want to do business. This may be one time where the 'money' issues will cut in Israel's favor.

Fourth, if Israel really wanted to unify the city, it would be developing Route 1 (where the red line is on the right of the map) as the center of town rather than Jaffa Road (the red line that goes across the bottom of the map). Route 1 is the former border between Israel and Jordan (give or take) throughout most of the city of Jerusalem. To the left of that red line was Israel, to the right was Jordan until 1967. All the tram is doing is allowing the Arabs easy access to the Jewish business areas of the city. Without that access, they would be complaining that they are cut off from the city's economic life and cannot make a living here, and we would be criticized for that. Of course, I don't know what will happen the first time a suicide bomber (God forbid) steps onto a tram. One would hope and expect that the consortium has taken action to secure the tram from terror attacks!

Fifth, as the above implies, the green line on the map is not the former border between Israel and Jordan that ran through Jerusalem. To find that border, you would have to start in the top right corner, and follow the red line, but then continue straight when it makes a sharp right turn (left if you're looking from the bottom).

But hey - anything goes against the Jews, right?


At 7:35 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Outrageous! The Palestinians want to deny Israel sovereignty in its own capital through intervention in a foreign court. This is not the behavior of a "peace partner." This is the behavior of a belligerent. For Israeli Jews, Palestinian actions such as their lawsuit in a French courtroom speak far louder than all their professed talk of seeking peace.


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