Israel’s new buses for Palestinians commuting from the west bank to Tel Aviv began running Tuesday amidst much commotion and controversy.
Last week Israel’s Transportation Ministry announced plans to begin a bus service exclusively for Palestinian workers commuting to jobs in Israel. The busses will run from checkpoints in the West Bank to the city of Tel Aviv along the Trans-Samaria Highway, according to Haaretz Daily Newspaper.
Israel has settlements throughout the area. The settlements currently cover about 2 percent of the land in the West Bank and are linked by highways controlled by Israel.
Israel’s Transportation Ministry operates buses along these highways to connect the settlements to one another and to Tel Aviv, the closest metropolitan area. Palestinians with permits to work in Israel use these buses to get to work.
In recent months, there have been complaints by Jewish settlers about the security risk, according to Al Jazeera.
In response to these complaints, the Transportation Ministry decided to begin running separate bus lines for Palestinians. Some in Israel are calling these “Apartheid Lines” in reference to South Africa’s system of racial a segregation known as apartheid. However, the Transportation Ministry stated that the lines are an attempt to relieve overcrowding on the buses, according to Haaretz.
The new busing went into effect this morning with much commotion and disruption according to Israel-based Ynetnews.com. Palestinians complained that the the bus routes are not efficient, and that the routes are now their only way of reaching the checkpoints.
The new buses have been controversial. “Separation on buses based on ethnicity was customary in the past in racist regimes around the world and is unacceptable in a democratic country,” said Zahava Gal-On, chairwoman of the Zionist social-democratic political party Meretz, according to Yediot Aharonot
Israel Transportation and Road Safety Minister Yisrael Katz said that Palestinians are allowed to ride on all buses, and, “In light of the great overflow on the few lines operated this morning, the ministry will asses the possibility that lines will leave from additional West Bank points, making it easier for the travelers,” according to Yediot Aharonot, a Tel-Aviv based daily paper.
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