PARIS - Rights groups and unions in France are slamming the involvement of French companies in the building of a tramway in Jerusalem that has links to Israeli settlements — even as the French government has long criticized the building of Israeli settlements and, more recently, the U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem.
A new report endorsed by more than a half-dozen French rights groups and unions singles out three French companies involved in the West Jerusalem tramway construction. One, Alstom, is privately owned. But two others, Egis Rail and Systra, are mostly or completely state-owned.
The groups say the tramway is a “tool of Israeli colonization and annexation,” and violates international law.
Contradiction in foreign policy
The report’s author, Didier Fagart, of the activist group Association France Palestine Solidarite, says the firms’ involvement in the tramway project marks at the very least a contradiction in French foreign policy.
On the one hand, Fagart notes, the French government has criticized Israeli settlement building, as well as the U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem. But when it comes to the construction companies, it doesn’t follow that condemnation with action.
Two of the companies declined to comment, while a third could not be reached.
France has been a longtime supporter of a two-state solution in the Middle East, with Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and a future Palestinian state. Tensions in the region periodically spill over to France, which has Western Europe’s largest communities of both Jews and Muslims.
Last week, President Emmanuel Macron again criticized the U.S. embassy move, saying it did not advance the cause of peace.
Fagart said France’s government must put pressure on the companies to pull out of the Jerusalem tramway project.