|Deutsche Bahn 311.(Photo by: Courtesy)|
Israel regrets German pullout from TA-J’lem rail project
By TOVAH LAZAROFF AND BENJAMIN WEINTHAL IN BERLIN
German ministry says project of laying down tracks traversing West Bank may be "politically sensitive."
Israel on Wednesday said it regretted the decision by German National Railways
(Deutsche Bahn) to halt its work on the high-speed train line from Tel Aviv to
Jerusalem because a small section of the route crosses over into the West
A spokeswoman for Israel Railways said Deutsche Bahn informed them
recently of their decision, saying they withdrew because a portion of the
project is located over the pre-1967 border. She added that Israel Railways was
looking at options to replace the company.
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“We regret this decision,”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told The Jerusalem Post.
in February, German Transportation Minister Peter Ramsauer, answered a query on
the matter by Rudiger Grube, the CEO of Deutsche Bahn.
“In recent weeks
Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister [Riyad Al-] Malki, members of the German
Parliament and media have criticized a project in which DB International is
acting as adviser to Israel’s state-run Israel Railway,” Ramsauer
“I want to advise you...that this Israeli railway project which
runs through occupied territory is problematic from a foreign policy standpoint
and is potentially against international law,” he wrote.
In an e-mail
response to the Post on Tuesday, Vera Moosmayer, a spokeswoman for Germany’s
Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs said her office would
continue to support the railway project, but not this particular
The ministry “explicitly welcomes the engagement of DB-subsidiary
‘DB International’ to contribute to the international development of railway
traffic through passing on its experience and know-how.
“It goes without
saying that this is also the case with regard to Israel,” she
“However, the federal government out of principle sees to it that
this activity does not include projects that might be potentially sensitive
politically or with regard to international law – as the Deutsche Bahn is a
company that is 100% state-owned. That as a matter of principle and applied in
all countries,” she wrote.
According to Moosmayer, Deutsche Bahn has been
active in Israel since 1990.
Moosmayer noted that Ramsauer visited Israel
last year to discuss ways that the two countries could cooperate on
infrastructure matters. During the March 2010 visit, both governments signed a
memorandum of understanding to increase their cooperation in the railway
The German National Railways’ decision to drop out of the
Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem line, came after a campaign against the rail line was
launched last fall by the Women’s Coalition for Peace, an Israel-based
In a report titled “Crossing the Line,” compiled by a section of the
NGO called, “Who Profits,” the report explained that six kilometers of the 60-km
track crossed into the West Bank.
One section of the rail line goes into
the West Bank by the settlement of Mevo Horon and the second crosses over by the
Palestinian village of Beit Iksa and Beit Surik.
coordinator Merav Amir congratulated the German government on its decision to
pull out of the project.
“It’s encouraging to see a government abide by
their own treaties and adhere to international law, and we call on other
European governments to follow suit in making sure that companies in their
countries abide by international law,” Amir said.
The rail line is one of
many projects in which international companies are involved in “illegal Israeli
construction projects in the occupied Palestinian territories,” she
“There is a discrepancy between what EU governments say and what
actually happens,” Amir said. “Governments issue statements about the illegality
of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, but when you see
what the EU commercial sector actually does, many times it violates those very
declarations, encouraging and profiting from Israeli control over occupied