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On Palestine, ICP Asks Mansour of Al-Aqsa, OPCW's Veolio Despite OPT Work

By Matthew Russell Lee, Investigative 3d Look

UNITED NATIONS, March 5 -- When the State of Palestine's Riyad Mansour held a stakeout at the UN on March 5 with representatives of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Non-Aligned Movement and Arab League, his topic was the Al-Aqsa mosque.

  Inner City Press asked Mansour if recent events there impacted the described agreement by Palestine with US Secretary of State John Kerry not to go to the International Criminal court -- and about the selection by the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons of a company, Veolia, which does business in the Occupied Palestine Territory, as Inner City Press first reported three weeks ago.

   Mansour said that the commitment to Kerry was not implicated, these moves were by the OIC, NAM, Arab Group et al. (Egypt's Permanent Representative reiterated this).

  On the OPCW's choice of Veolia, Mansour said while he still needed to study the matter, the European Union has taken decisions not to deal with companies profiting from the illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

  So what of the EU -- and OIC and NAM -- votes on the OPCW board?

   To dispose of Syria's chemical weapons, 14 companies submitted bids to the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons. On February 14 the OPCW told the press there were two winners:

Ekokem OY AB (Finland)

Veolia Environmental Services Technical Solutions, LLC (U.S.A.)

   Veolia, it turns out, stands accused of illegal operations in the occupied Palestinian territories, including waste disposal in the illegally occupied Jordan valley, North of the Yafit settlement; waste water treatment in the illegal Israeli settlement of Modi’in Illit; bus service to illegal settlements and Jerusalem Light Rail / tramway. h/t In April 2010 the UN Human Rights Council declared the tramway and its operations to be illegal (A/HRC/RES/13/7 of 14 April 2010).

  So how did the OPCW select Veolia? There is a one page press release sent to the media, "reported" (or merely repeated, without any of the above) by Reuters and others, not mentioning that France, where Veolia is actually headquartered at the parent level, has contributed no money at all to the OPCW or UN trust funds on destroying Syria's chemical weapons.

   On transparency back on February 6, after OPCW-UN mission chief Sigrid Kaag briefed the UN Security Council about Syria chemical weapons, Inner City Press asked her about her Mission's trust funds, as it did back on January 8.

   Inner City Press noted that the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons put online a January 24 press release about Canada donated 10 million CAD, but that it had no link to any over-all chart.

  Kaag said, "I knew you'd ask that," and said it should go online soon.  Video here and embedded below.  After 6 pm, Inner City Press ran an update with the chart, which shows for example that to the UN Trust Fund, Japan has pledged $9 million -- but has as of yet provided no money.

  In terms of cash, Kaag's native Netherlands has provided more (barely) that the United States:  $2,062,500 versus $2 million from the US.
  The OPCW Trust Fund for Syria is denominated in Euros. The European Union is the largest donor, and several EU members have also contributed in their own name - but not France.

  A separate OPCW Syria Trust Fund for the Destruction of Chemical Weapons has more in unpaid pledges then monies actually paid. Among those yet to come through are once again Japan, the aforementioned Canada, the EU, Australia, India, Italy and South Korea.

   There is the maritime component (see chart) and then this:

In addition to their contribution to the OPCW trust fund for the Destruction of Chemical Weapons, Canada contributed another CAD 5 million (almost US$ 4.7 million) for the destruction operations on board the vessel MV Cape Ray. Italy has indicated that the port of Gioia Tauro will be made available for transloading of priority chemicals from the cargo vessels onto the MV Cape Ray. Germany has indicated it will dispose of approximately 370 tons of effluent generated through the hydrolysis of the priority chemicals. The United Kingdom has indicated that it will destroy two binary chemical weapon components at a commercial facility.

    And so the only Permanent Five member of the Security Council not to contribute... is France.

   On delay, US Ambassador Samantha Power was asked of Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin saying that the US ship to destroy the weapons was not even in the Mediterranean yet. She said she would "set the record straight" that this had nothing to do with Syria's delay, and that the ship would be there soon. (It did arrive).

  Only two questions were allowed to Ambassador Power, from Al Jazeera then from Al Hurra, on whose Broadcasting Board of Governors US Secretary of State John Kerry sits.

  The Veolia / OPT question will have to be answered, by the OPCW and one hopes by the US and other OPCW members. (Outgoing UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky has told Inner City Press, "Ask the OPCW.") Watch this site.



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