TEL AVIV — For a country fighting allegations of racism and apartheid against its Arab citizens, introducing a “Palestinian-only” bus line for workers entering Israel from the West Bank may not be the smartest move.
The line came into operation Monday and immediately had Israeli human rights groups up in arms.
Zahava Gal-On, the leader of the leftist political party Meretz, demanded that the transport ministry “immediately cancel the segregated lines in the West Bank.”
“Separate bus lines for Palestinians prove that occupation and democracy cannot coexist,” she added.
Jessica Montell, director of the B’Tselem rights group, also criticized the move. “Creating separate bus lines for Israeli Jews and Palestinians is a revolting plan,” she told Army Radio.
Palestinians with entry permits to work in central Israel must now all converge on one single crossing point, at Eyal near Qalqilya, where the new line operates, leading to delays.
A riot broke out Tuesday morning when Palestinians discovered there were not enough buses to take them all to their jobs in Israel.
According to Gal-On and other sources, the move follows pressure from Jewish settlers, who also cross from the West Bank into Israel to work, and who objected to sharing their buses with Palestinians.
Their reason: Fear that Palestinians could leave bombs on the buses and blow them up.
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