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by Bethany Rielly
HS2 has the “legal right and moral obligation” to exclude a firm “involved in Israeli war crimes” from its tender process, lawyers have claimed.
Spanish manufacturer CAF is one of five bidders hoping to secure a £2.75 billion contract to supply high-speed trains to the HS2 rail project.
Palestinian rights groups have been calling on HS2 Ltd to drop CAF over its role in the Jerusalem Light Rail (JRL) expansion which links illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land to West Jerusalem.
Now a legal brief drafted by Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights and the European Legal Support Centre, which was submitted to the government today, claims that the rail project is “legally entitled” to reject CAF’s bid on the grounds of “grave professional misconduct” and breaches of international law.
Jewish-only settlements built in occupied Palestinian land are illegal under international law — a position upheld by the British government.
European Legal Support Centre, an Amsterdam-based organisation that defends individuals in the Palestine solidarity movement across Europe, said that companies “involved in war crimes should have no standing in public tenders.”
“HS2 Ltd has the legal right and a moral obligation to exclude CAF from the tender procedure,” the group’s programme director Giovanni Fassina said.
The brief claims HS2 Ltd is legally entitled under British procurement law to drop the firm, as it allows a contracting authority to exclude a bidder if the firm is guilty of grave professional misconduct.
It argues that CAF’s role in the Jerusalem train line amounts to this violation.
The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions national committee’s Europe campaigns co-ordinator Alys Samson Estape said: “The JLR project is part of the ongoing process of entrenchment of Israel’s apartheid, illegal settlement enterprise and theft of Palestinian land in and around occupied East Jerusalem.
“JLR is so blatantly illegal that other multinationals which had participated in the initial stages of bidding for the project, including Alstom, Siemens, Systra, Bombardier and Macquarie, withdrew from the call for tenders, leaving just two consortiums bidding.
“Public institutions, including the UK government, should exclude CAF from its public tenders due to its violations of international law until it stops profiting from Israel’s illegal occupation.”
Palestine Solidarity Campaign director Ben Jamal said: “All public contract authorities must discharge their responsibilities to cease complicity in ongoing violations of international law.
“This means HS2 Ltd must exclude CAF, and any other company violating Palestinian human rights, from the bid to provide rolling stock.”
The Department for Transport (DfT) told the Star that it would be a breach of rules to comment on HS2’s procurement process.
HS2 also declined to comment, referring the Star to the DfT.
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