'PLO disputes Jerusalem rail plan.
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem and Angelique Chrisafis in ParisFriday October 26, 2007The Guardian
The Palestinians have begun legal action against two prominent French companies in an attempt to stop work on a contested light-railway project in Jerusalem.
When it begins operating in 2010, the railway will stretch for eight and a half miles through West and East Jerusalem, taking, it is estimated, 400,000 passenger-journeys a day. Its backers say it will ease road congestion.
But the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which is bringing the court case, through its delegation in Paris, argues that the railway will breach the fourth Geneva convention by providing infrastructure to Jewish settlements on occupied land.
A key section of the line will run into East Jerusalem, linking Jewish settlements, which are home to tens of thousands of people, to the city centre. "This tram will constitute at least an element in the expansion of the colonisation of East Jerusalem by the state of Israel," the Palestinian delegation said in a statement.
The Palestinians say Israel is trying to exert more control over the east of the city. The tram, they say, will "contribute to hindering the Palestinians from exercising the right to govern themselves".
The Palestinians are calling on the tribunal de grande instance, the court at Nanterre, to cancel the Israeli contract given to Alstom, which will provide the train carriages, and to Veolia Transport, the public transport operator. Spokesmen for Alstom and Veolia said yesterday that they had no comment.'