Activists from the group BDS France crashed a water summit yesterday and urged dozens of stunned delegates not to cooperate with the Israeli water company Mekorot that pillages water sources in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The activists burst into the convention hall at the luxury Marriott Rive Gauche hotel in Paris, where delegates at the Global Water Summit 2014 were having breakfast.
An activist carrying a Palestinian flag called out “we are here to protest in a democratic way” as officials tried to block him and hustle him away, but later, as the above video shows, the activists were allowed to address the delegates directly.
Another activist can be seen calling out “You can choose whether to do business with criminals or not. That’s your responsibility, think about it.”
“Shame on you, people are dying there,” another protestor says.
“Water meets money”
Saudi Arabia’s National Water Company is listed as an “exhibitor.”
According to the conference website, at least one other Israeli firm, IDE Technologies Ltd., was present in addition to Mekorot.
The conference website’s url is the rather shameless watermeetsmoney.com.
Allowed to speak
Following negotiations with hotel officials, the activists, holding a large Palestinian flag, were allowed to address the delegates.
Speaking in English, one of the activists told the conference participants:
We’re here to denounce the situation of colonization you are all aware of, that’s taking place in Palestine for more than 60 years now – the oldest situation of colonization in the whole world. For several decades now Israel has been abusing the rights of the Palestinian people, including the water supplies that are now lacking drastically especially in the Gaza Strip.
Here with us, at this global water conference, there is an Israeli company that’s taking part in this abuse of human rights, pumping the waters of the Palestinian people. Do you want to be the accomplices of an international violation of the law that the UN has condemned? Mekorot, this Israeli company is with you today. They are the bad guys in this whole conference. Why would you let them talk? Why would you let them make deals with you?
After the speech, the activists were forcibly removed from the hotel despite an effort to stay.
According to text in the video, hotel managers “called the police and some of the activists were checked by police but were allowed to leave.”
“BDS activists underline that they will be present at all events that legitimize French and Israeli companies that participate in and profit from Israeli apartheid,” the text states.
As protests were going on inside the Paris hotel, activists holding signs denouncing Israeli apartheid, colonization and land theft rallied outside.