London-UAE cable car pact excludes Israel

(JTA) — London’s main transportation agency has come under fire for a deal with a United Arab Emirates-based company that excludes Israel from future business dealings.

Transport for London signed a 10-year partnership deal with Emirates Air Line on the Thames cable car, which opened in June 2012 ahead of the London Olympics.

According to the 2011 contract, which was revealed by the online watchdog group MayorWatch through a Freedom of Information request, Transport for London agreed to abide by the UAE’s foreign policy in the deal.

Under the terms of the contract, Transport for London will default on the agreement if it sells the cable car to a “conflicting person,” defined as any competitor or “any person who is a national of, or who is registered, incorporated, established or whose principal place of business is in a country with which the UAE does not at the date of this Contract or at any relevant point during the Term maintain diplomatic relations.”

Israel is the only country that falls into that category.

Transport for London would not be allowed to finance the project through Israel-based or Israeli-owned banks, nor would Israel be able to buy the cable cars from Transport for London. Emirates Air Line is providing $ 54.4 million of the project’s more then $95 million construction and development costs.

“This story raises serious concerns, yet we are confident that the relevant British authorities will know how to deal with it,” Amir Ofek, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in London, told HuffPost UK.

Paul Charney, chair of the United Kingdom’s Zionist Federation, in a statement said the exclusion condition “sets a dangerous precedent, effectively allowing UAE money to dictate government policy through commercial contracts.”

“I call on Transport for London to urgently discuss this matter with foreign and trade ministers and reconsider this agreement before any lasting damage is done.”

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