Israeli apartheid buses plan scrapped

This 2012 video is called Dividing Line – Segregation in Israel’s public bus lines.

After women having to sit at the back of some buses in Israel, almost more bad discrimination transportation news …

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Israel scraps scheme to ban Palestinians from buses

Rightwing defence minister had approved programme to stop Palestinians working in Israel returning to West Bank on Israeli buses

Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem

Wednesday 20 May 2015 09.21 BST

A ban on Palestinians who work in Israel from returning home to the West Bank on Israeli buses that service settlements has been suspended within hours of its instigation on Wednesday morning.

Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, ordered that the pilot plan be suspended after the rightwing defence minister, Moshe Ya’alon, had approved the scheme.

Opposition figures had described the plan as a humiliation and tantamount to apartheid.

“The decision to separate Palestinians and Jews on public transportation is an unnecessary humiliation that is a stain on the state and its citizens,” the Israeli opposition leader, Isaac Herzog, wrote on his Facebook page.

“This is another one of the prime minister’s mistakes, who is giving in to and supporting a horrible decision that has no connection to the security of the state,” Herzog added.

The leader of Israel’s leftwing Meretz party, Zahava Gal-On, said: “This is how apartheid looks. There is no better or nicer way to put it. Separate buses for Jews and Palestinians prove that democracy and occupation cannot co-exist.”

The arrangement – which also drew immediate criticism from human rights groups – would have meant not only that Palestinians with permits to work in Israel would be unable to return home on buses used by Jews, but also that they would be required to leave Israel through the same checkpoint they entered, adding several hours to daily journeys.

Yariv Oppenheimer, the head of Israel’s Peace Now, described the scheme as “an ugly and racist policy that has no place in a democratic society”.

He added: “Security calculations are a cover for the settlers’ wanting to abuse the Palestinians and not see them, God forbid, on their way home to the settlement.”

The arrangement was first mooted last year after lobbying by settler organisations, but was not implemented. Under the scheme – slated to last three months initially – Palestinians entering Israel via the Rayhan, Hala, Eliyahu and Eyal checkpoints would only be able return home via the same checkpoints through which they left the West Bank.

Palestinians with entry permits – mainly working in the construction industry – enter Israel through smart crossings, which register them, and are then allowed to return by public transport with no need to register on their return.

Palestinians would also have been banned from using the Israeli Afik bus service, which runs along route 5 to the huge West Bank settlement of Ariel, and which they had shared with settlers, instead being required to use Palestinian public transport.

Before the ban was lifted, an Israeli defence official said: “Under a three-month pilot project, Palestinians who work in Israel will, starting Wednesday, need to return home by the same crossing without taking buses used by (Israeli) residents” of the occupied West Bank.

According to the Israeli website Walla, implementation of the plan was initially held up for several months following concerns from senior military officials. Their objections were eventually overruled by Ya’alon, who reportedly argued that it was necessary to supervise Arabs returning to the West Bank.

Settlers groups have long been campaigning to have Palestinian workers banned from the buses they use, including in evidence to the last Knesset, where they claimed they faced harassment from Palestinians using the bus services.

See also here.

4 thoughts on “Israeli apartheid buses plan scrapped

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