Defense Ministry decides on separate transport for Arab workers and Jewish residents, to combat overload and friction.
See reversal of decision below
Leftist Anger as Arab Workers Banned from Judea-Samaria Buses
MK Moti Yogev (Jewish Home) congratulated Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon Wednesday after the minister announced that Jews and Arabs would go back to riding separate public buses to and from Judea and Samaria, and within these territories.
The decision, two years ago, to allow Arabs on the buses that served Jews “created a situation in which tens of thousands of Palestinian laborers, including thousands of illegal infiltrators, filled the bus lines, and made it impossible for the residents of Judea and Samaria communities who require public transport to return to their homes.”
The policy also brought about a situation rife with sexual harassment, theft, and a feeling of insecurity, charged Yogev – and mostly, great overcrowding that made it impossible for people to go from and to their homes.
Yogev acused opponents of the latest decision of “hypocrisy, lies and irresponsibility.”
Labor leader MK Yitzhak Herzog attacked Yaalon’s decision and said that separation between Arabs and Jews on public transport is “an unnecessary humiliation and a stain on the faces of the state and its citizens. Unneeded fuel on the fire of hatred toward Israel worldwide.”
“This is another mistake by a prime minister who assists and surrenders to a woeful decision that has nothing to do with state security. It would bebest to avoid, at this time, steps that cause unnecessary damage to the reputation and image of the state of Israel, at such a sensitive time,” he added.
“Separate bus lines for Palestinians and Jews proves that democracy and occupation can not co-exist,” Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On said before the decision was cancelled.
Israel cancels controversial travel ban for Palestinians after Left screams apartheid
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have agreed to suspend a controversial pilot program, which in its execution, would have prevented Palestinian workers from traveling home on Israeli buses in the West Bank after working in Israel.
Under the edict of the three-month pilot program, Palestinians were not banned from traveling on Israeli buses.
But the program would have mandated that many Palestinians who live in the West Bank and who enter Israel in the morning through passages in the security barrier, would have to return home through those same crossings, which lack Israeli bus lines.
The pilot program would not have effected all Palestinians and was limited to four checkpoints in the center of the country.
At present Palestinians who enter Israel through those passageways take Israeli buses homes, because they allow for easier travel routes.
The impact of the program which would have separated Palestinians from Israelis on a number of central West Bank Israeli bus lines, had drawn sharp protests from Left-wing politicians and activists.
“This is what apartheid looks like,” Meretz Party head Zahava Gal-On said in response. “No there is no other polite definition that would fall more pleasantly on one’s ears.”
“Separate bus lines for Palestinians and Jews proves that democracy and occupation can not co-exist,” she said.
The Defense Ministry had already said in October that it would execute such a program, but until Wednesday, had taken no action on the matter. It did so following complaints by the Samaria Regional Council and its local community leaders who had argued the Palestinians on the buses presented a security threat to the passengers.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog, who heads the Zionist Union party, said, “the separation of Palestinians and Israelis from public bus lines is an unnecessary humiliation. It is also a stain on the face of the state of Israel and its citizens.”
He added that at “this sensitive time it would be better to avoid steps which tarnish Israel’s name and reputation.”
“It only adds fat to the fire of hate against Israel in the world,” Herzog said. “This is yet another mistake by the prime minister who lent his hand to this unfortunate decision, which has no bearing on the country’s security.”
MK Shelly Yacimovich (Zionist Union) said the implementation was “chilling” and “there was no explanation that can erase its stain on Israel.”
“Dealing with security challenges is hard, but such blatant segregation between Jews and Arabs breaches all international moral norms and will cause the state great damage,” she added.