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Friday, June 05, 2009

The Arab boycott is alive and well

Gulf News is reporting that the 'Palestinian Authority' is trying 'quietly' to get the Saudi government to withdraw a contract that was recently awarded to the French company Alstom to build a railroad from Mecca to Medina. The reason is that Alstom is part of the consortium that is constructing the Jerusalem tram project (map at left). The tram will include stops in the eastern half of Jerusalem, and the 'Palestinians' fear that it might result in Arab residents of Jerusalem being more integrated into the city.
Palestinian foreign ministry officials have expressed reservation at a recent Saudi announcement awarding the contract for the Haramain Express railway to a consortium consisting of French company Alstom Transport.

Alstom is part of a group of companies that is building a light rail network in Jerusalem, which is expected to extend to East Jerusalem and Jewish colonies in the occupied West Bank.

"Backchannel talks with the Saudis are ongoing," a Palestinian foreign ministry official said on condition of anonymity. He did not divulge details of the talks but said they would be based on an Arab League decision barring states from dealing with companies building the light rail.

The Saudi Railway Organisation, which is handling the Makkah-Madinah project, did not respond to Gulf News' request for comments.

Alstom and Veolia, the other French company involved in the project in occupied Jerusalem, have become target of boycotts in Europe in recent years and are facing a lawsuit in France brought by the advocacy group Association France-Palestine Solidarité with the support of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation's (PLO) representative office in Paris.

The PLO's representative in Paris, Hind Khoury, told Gulf News that Alstom's involvement was a concern for the Palestinian Authority, adding that she has been given a new mandate by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to pursue the case more aggressively.


It is understood the PA is reluctant to go public with the issue, fearing the disclosure would make the Saudis uncomfortable. The Arab public opinion would not agree with giving a contract to link their most holy cities to a company seen assisting Israel, one observer said.
But the conflict between Israel and the 'Palestinians' isn't religious now, is it?



At 6:50 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

The "moderate" PA wants to enforce the Arab boycott on Israel. This is the goodwill gesture of the peace partner towards Israel?

Oy vey!


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