The Transportation Ministry does not have a way to stop a company that gave in to anti-Israel boycotts from winning tenders, Minister Israel Katz said on Wednesday.
Katz spoke in response to a question from Yesh Atid MK Pnina Tamnu-Shata in the Knesset.
Tamnu-Shata pointed out that Deutsche Bahn won a tender to take part in building the light rail that will go through Tel Aviv and its suburbs.
In 2011, the same company pulled out of its responsibility for electricity and communications control on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv train route, because part of the track runs over the Green Line. According to Der Spiegel, the company abandoned the project due to protests from pro-Palestinian groups.
Tamnu-Shata asked Katz, “How can a company that boycotts work in Jerusalem win a different government tender?”
Katz read a response from NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit System, the state company responsible for the design and construction of mass transit in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, which said that Deutsche Bahn is the subcontractor of a Chinese company that won the tender, and was selected because of professional considerations only.
“Beyond that,” Katz said, “as far as I know, the one authorized to decide if there are companies that can’t work in Israel is the Foreign Ministry, and the consideration is whether they sold to Iran or things like that. Only the diplomatic level, and it can be the Foreign Ministry or even higher up, can make a list... in consultation with Strategic Affairs Minister [Gilad] Erdan.
“As long as there’s no list like that, NTA runs its tenders legally. I, as the minister, am not involved in tenders, and it’s good that I’m not involved,” he said.
In response, Tamnu-Shata questioned the government’s seriousness in fighting boycotts.
“From what I understand from you, despite the past declarations by the government of Israel of a fight against boycotts against the state, there’s no set policy that applies to government ministries, and the ministers aren’t responsible for it,” she said. “What I understand is... someone who boycotts Israel can actually participate in any tender it wants, wherever it suits them.”
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Tamnu- Shata called the situation absurd.
“We’re working with companies that are boycotting Jerusalem? Come on!” she exclaimed.