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Palestine urges Greek firms to reject tender for Israeli railway project

March 15, 2019 2:15 P.M. (Updated: March 18, 2019 10:20 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian ambassador to Athens, Marwan Toubassi, expressed deep concern, on Friday, over Greek firms planning to participate in a tender to expand a section of the railway in occupied East Jerusalem.

Toubassi said in a statement that if it is true that Greek firms will participate in Jerusalem’s second 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.”

According to a Greek news outlet, an 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 line.

Sources pointed out that 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 plans to participate in the project as “a service for the Israeli settler-colonialist project and an encroachment upon the territorial integrity of the State of Palestine.”

He 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.

Toubassi also stressed 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.

Toubassi submitted an inquiry to the Greek Foreign Ministry and met several Greek officials to brief them about the consequences of such participation, urging them to pressure the firms to withdraw from the tender before March 18th.

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

Jerusalem’s light rail line project includes extending the existing Red Line and developing a second Line, the “Green Line.”

The proposed Green Line, a project that could cost as much as 5 billion shekels ($1.4 billion) and stretch along 22 kilometers, proved to be problematic as it reaches Mount Scopus and Gilo, which are parts of the city occupied by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967.

In early February, Spanish rail equipment manufacturer CAF announced that it had refused to participate in the tender to build the railway as it violates international law.

CAF, which is one of the most important Spanish companies in the field of railways, said it “refuses to build a section of the railway in Jerusalem because the Israeli government included in the section a Palestinian land that will be confiscated in violation of the resolutions of international legitimacy.”

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