Ministry launches ‘Palestinians only’ buses
Transportation Ministry sets up designated bus lines for Palestinian passengers in West Bank; insists lines are for general public, but only Palestinian villages have been advised of their existence
Racial segregation or transportation mitigation? The Transportation Ministry announced that starting Sunday it will begin operating designated lines for Palestinians in the West Bank.
The bus lines in question are meant, according to the ministry, to transport Palestinian workers from the West Bank to central Israel. The ministry alleges that the move is meant to ease the congestion felt on bus lines used by Jews in the same areas, but several bus drivers told Ynet that Palestinians who will choose to travel on the so-called “mixed” lines, will be asked to leave them.
The volatile nature of the decision was not lost on the driver: “Obviously, everyone will start screaming ‘apartheid’ and ‘racism’ now. This really doesn’t feel right, and maybe (the ministry) should find a different solution, but the situation right now is impossible.”
Another driver said that, “Driving a bus full of only Palestinians might turn out to be tricky. It could be unnerving and it might also create other problems. It could be a scary thing.”
The Judea and Samaria Police is reportedly gearing for the move as well, and will deploy additional forces in Eyal crossing to maintain public order.
Police sources said that it is highly unlikely that Palestinians would be excluded from riding on existing bus lines, adding that the forces would “Do their best to execute the ministry’s decision.”
Afikim issued a statement saying that, “This plan aims to ease travel for Palestinian passengers and offer a solution that counters pirate bus companies that charge exorbitant prices. As for any question about removing Palestinian passengers from buses – that has to be addressed by the enforcement and security bodies.”
The Transportation Ministry issued the following statement: “The new lines are not separate lines for Palestinians but rather two designated lines meant to improve the services offered to Palestinian workers who enter Israel through Eyal Crossing.
“The new lines will replace irregular, pirate lines that charge very high prices from Palestinian passengers. The new lines will reduce congestion and will benefit Israelis and Palestinians alike.”
According to the statement, “The Transportation Ministry is forbidden from preventing any passenger from boarding any line of public transportation, nor do we know of a directive to that effect. Instating these lines was done with the knowledge and complete agreement of the Palestinians.”