Palestinian diplomat expresses concern over Greek firms’ bid for an Israeli rail project

ATHENS, Palestinian ambassador to Athens, Marwan Toubassi, expressed deep concern today over Greek firms’ plan to participate in a tender for the expansion of the light railway line linking West Bank Israeli settlements with Jerusalem.

Toubassi stated that if it is true that Greek firms will participate in the Jerusalem light rail tender, this would constitute a flagrant violation of international law, the United Nations and its Security Council resolutions, particularly UNSC Resolution 2334 of December 2016.

On January 23 Greek daily Kathimerini reported that Athens urban rail transport company STASY is part of one of the six major consortiums to be short-listed for the second stage of the tender for the operation and maintenance of Jerusalem’s light rail system.

It also pointed out that the Greek construction company Terna SA is also a part of the Pangea Consortium.

According to Kathimerini’s report, STASY will take over the operation of the $2 billion railway network for 15-20 years and its maintenance for 25 years.

Toubassi slammed the Greek firms’ participation in the project as a service for the Israeli settler-colonialist project and an encroachment upon the territorial integrity of the State of Palestine.

Toubassi noted that such the participation runs counter to Greece’s official and popular positions calling for ending the Israeli occupation and establishing the Palestinian state based on the borders of 4 June 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital.

He also noted that it would harm Palestine’s historically friendly ties with Greece, make participating firms liable to penalties and financial compensation and have them blacklisted for doing business with Israeli settlements.

The Palestinian diplomat pointed out that he has submitted an inquiry to the Greek Foreign Ministry and met several Greek officials to brief them about the consequences of such participation, and urged them to pressure the firms to withdraw from the tender before March 18.

Following Toubassi’s intervention, 20 Greek parliamentarians submitted a request to the Greek Infrastructure and Transport Minister Christos Spirtzis, urging him to open an inquiry into the issue.

The Jerusalem light rail extension project includes extending the existing Red Line and developing a second Line, the so-called Green line.

The extension will penetrate deeper into the occupied West Bank, connecting the settlements of Pisgat Zeev and Neve Yaakov, which are part of the ring of settlements Israel is building to isolate Palestinians in Jerusalem, to those in the rest of the West Bank.

The proposed Green Line, a project that cost as much as $1.4 billion and stretches along 22 kilometers, will run from Mount Scopus in occupied East Jerusalem to Gilo settlement, southwest of Jerusalem.

The light rail system will make living in West Bank settlements more attractive, and therefore, entrenches Israel’s 51-year-old military occupation and settler-colonial project of the West Bank and the apartheid system that comes with it.

Source: Palestinian News & Info Agency