Critics of the Israel Defense Ministry’s policy that calls for Jewish settlers and Palestinian workers to travel on separate buses describe it as apartheid, discrimination, and segregation. CCTV America’s Stephanie Freid reported this story from Ariel, in the occupied West Bank.
On any given day, tens of thousands of Palestinians travel from the Israeli occupied West Bank into Israel for work. They hold menial labor positions as hospital orderlies, janitors, and construction workers.
Because they work in Israel, they face stringent, bi-annual background checks and hours-long security screenings at checkpoint entrances to Israel each morning. Jewish settlers riding the same buses with them say that’s not enough.
“When they go on the bus back to our area, nobody check them. Nobody check if they are legal or un-legal in Israel. Nobody check if they are coming in peace or with hidden ideas,” said Sot Oren Hazan, a member of a Jewish settler committee.
That’s the public premise for a new policy introduced by Israel’s Defense Minister that channels Palestinians to alternate “Palestinian-only” bus lines routed through a single checkpoint, which will also add hours to already lengthy daily commutes.
Critics say it’s a racist call for segregation by settlers who say they don’t want to commute with Arabs.
Israel’s justice minister vows to fight the new policy she terms “unacceptable discrimination” while the defense ministry counters saying it’s a tracking mechanism aimed at bolstering security.