The Green Park construction company is engaged in building illegal
settlements in the West Bank, notably, the settlements of Mattiyahu East
and Modi'in Illit, which have been built on land annexed from the
Palestinian village of Bil'in, by the Israeli apartheid wall.
The village of Bil'in has been struggling against the construction of the
wall for over five years, holding weekly demonstrations, first at the
construction site and then at the gate in the apartheid wall separating
the villagers from their land. The Israeli army has often responded by
attacking demonstrations with water cannons, sound bombs, plastic bullets
and live ammunition. Bil'in has also been used as a testing site for new
weapons. Demonstrators have been subjected to high-pitched screeching and
doused with nerve agents, blue dye and, most recently, a foul-smelling
'skunk' weapon. In March 2009, an American activist, Tristan Anderson, was
critically injured after a new brand of tear gas canister was fired at his
head. He remains in a coma. In April 2009, Bassem Ibrahim Abu Rahmah was
killed by a plastic coated bullet while demonstrating against the wall.
Despite this weekly demonstrations continue unabated and have been
successful in saving some of the village's land.
For years international campaigners from all over the world have been
attending the weekly demonstrations in Bil'in. Three international
conferences on non-violent resistance to the wall and the occupation have
been held in the village. The residents of Bil'in have brought several
cases to the Israeli supreme court against the seizure of their land for
the construction of the wall. Now the village is extending its resistance
from the contractors building the wall and the soldiers protecting it to
the international companies profiting from the building of the settlements
the wall is designed to benefit.
Last year Bil'in's village committee, with the help of Israeli human
rights group Yesh Din ('There is Law' in Hebrew), began work on a case
against two Canadian companies linked to Green Park. Green Park
International Inc. and Green Mount International Inc. are both registered
companies in the Province of Quebec. Lawyers for the village claim both
companies are involved in building residential and non-residential units
for settlers on land belonging to the village. They further claim that the
village is due the protection of the Geneva conventions as it is based in
territory subject to military occupation.
In what appears to be a deliberate attempt to evade restriction of its
business, Green Park has nominally registered itself in Canada. Green Park
has a token Canadian director who has little to do with the company's
operations in Palestine.
The Bil’in committee claims that Green Park International Inc. and Green
Mount International Inc. have violated international law and Canadian
domestic law and that the village has a right to protection under the
Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute of the International
Criminal Court. Both statutes prohibit an occupying power from
transferring its civilian population into territory that it has occupied
as a result of war. Bil’in also relies on the Canadian Geneva Conventions
Act and the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, which contain the
same prohibition. The acts have jurisdiction over Canadians regardless of
where in the world the offence has taken place.
Lawyers for Bil'in are claiming damages as well as attempting to obtain an
order for settlement construction to cease. If successful, they plan to
try to force the Israeli supreme court to enforce the Canadian court's
Green Park International Inc. and Green Mount International Inc have
lodged motions in the court for the claims to be thrown out on the grounds
that the court did not have jurisdiction. Bil'in's Canadian lawyers argue
that, as the companies are registered in Canada, the court does have
jurisdiction. The judge's decision is likely to come after September 2009.
The case of Bil'in vs Green Park is similar to the case lodged by the
Association France Palestine Solidaritie against Veolia and Alstom, two
French companies engaged in building a tramway on illegally occupied
territory (see Corporate Watch Newsletter 43 - www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=3400). In that case, it was accepted that the
French court did have jurisdiction to hear the case.
What Corporate Watch does...
Our website, providing detailed profiles of some of the world's largest corporations and overviews of each major industry sector, constitutes not just a resource for campaigners and journalists but also aims to provide a comprehensive picture of the reality of our corporate age.
Corporations have gained a power out of all proportion to their original purpose. We are a research group supporting the campaigns which are increasingly successful in forcing corporations to back down. Corporate Watch is part of the growing anti-corporate movement springing up around the world.
Israel's occupation of Palestine is propped up with the help of international corporations and financial institutions. This project profiles international and UK-based companies complicit in the occupation and analyses the role of international trade projects in institutionalising the Israeli apartheid regime.
1. Israeli companies: Since the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights in 1967, Israeli companies, hand in hand with the Israeli state, have exploited the Palestinian economy and workforce. Agricultural companies have set up farms on land expropriated from Palestinian communities and have crippled Palestinian agriculture, already decimated by the military occupation and closures, by flooding Palestinian markets with cheap Israeli goods. These companies have taken advantage of the EU-Israel Trade Agreement to export large quantities of their produce to the European market.
2. International Corporations: Many international companies have taken the opportunity to profit from the suffering of the people of Palestine. Arms companies sell weapons to Israel in full knowledge of Israel's ongoing war crimes; construction companies accept contracts for the building of illegal settlements; and multinationals open branches on illegal settlements. Some settlement produce is also marketed as 'organic' on European supermarket shelves.
3. States: Several foreign governments plan to set up new industrial areas inside the West Bank on territories under Israeli military occupation. In the occupied Jordan Valley, the Japanese government plans to facilitate the setting up of an industrial area where Israeli and international companies will take advantage of the desperate Palestinian workforce. The construction of this industrial area will entail further entrenchment of the Israeli apartheid system through the development of settler roads linking the zone to 1948 Israel. The German, British and French governments have expressed interest in setting up similar industrial areas elsewhere in the West Bank. These zones will exploit Palestinian workers, whose livelihoods have been destroyed by the Israeli military occupation and who often have no choice but to work for settler companies for low wages and with no protection or right to unionise.
There is an established and growing movement in solidarity with Palestine. Since 2004, the focus of this movement has been a Palestinian call for 'Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions' (BDS). The call was made by hundreds of Palestinian civil society organisations and all major Palestinian trade unions. Campaigners around the world have engaged in diverse forms of solidarity action in line with this call. Corporate Watch's research intends to strengthen and provide a resource for the growing BDS movement and the wider international solidarity movement.