Palestinians Bus Discrimination by Israel
For decades, the Israeli government has continued to carry out a host of human rights violations against the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In the most recent human rights violation by the Israeli state against Palestinians, Palestinians will not be allowed to ride on the same buses as Israeli settlers in the West Bank, one of the Palestinian territories that has been occupied by Israel since 1967.
Many Palestinians would use the buses for work, as “[h]undreds of Palestinians travel each day to work in Israel from the occupied West Bank, mainly in the construction business, using a single crossing point at Eyal where they present travel permits” (Yahoo, 2014).
According to the new action, it “will require them to again check in at the Eyal crossing point, the Haaretz daily reported. The workers would have to find separate transportation from that point on.” As Counterpunch (2014) points out in their article Under Israeli Apartheid, Palestinians Cannot Ride Israeli Buses,
“It is already difficult for Palestinians to enter Israel. Palestinian workers traveling into central Israel for their jobs have to go through high-security, militarized check points. Those who are allowed to cross are not allowed to sleep in Israel. Unemployment and poverty are high in the West Bank, because of 47-year Israeli military occupation. Palestinians seek employment opportunities in Israel, often in low-paid, dangerous work such as construction. Because of the checkpoints and Israeli militarized security apparatus, it takes Palestinians a long time to travel into Israel (if they are even able to do so at all). This new decision will increase their already inordinately large commute times even more.”
Thus, this recent action to not allow Palestinians to ride on the same buses as Israelis clearly violates the basic human rights of the Palestinians, and perpetuates discrimination based on ethnicity. In fact, many human rights organizations have spoken out against this issue, calling it “racial segregation.”
Much of the push for this was by Israeli settlers who argued for this due to security issues. However, as Yahoo (citing Haaretz) reported, “the bus ban contradicted the view of the Israeli army, which does not see Palestinian commuters on Israeli transport as a threat, since the workers go through security vetting before receiving their travel permits.” Furthermore, Haaretz (2014) argues that “The defense minister made it his goal a long time ago to satisfy the settlers; to dance to their tune and make almost all their wishes and demands come true. He does this out of cynical personal and political considerations – to reinforce his status as a leader of the extreme right. The saga of his murky relations with the American administration following his disparaging remarks about Secretary of State John Kerry and other senior officials shows how much Ya’alon longs for the settlers’ embrace.”
The international community must continue to call on Israel to respect Palestinian rights. However, sadly, it does not seem that those in power are too concerned about such rights, given the Israeli government’s continued human rights abuses against Palestinians, whether it is this issue, the attack on Gaza, or the continued settlement expansions, which are a clear violation of international law.
And just recently within Israel, “Israel’s top legal officer [Yehuda Weinstein] has ordered Moshe Ya’alon, the country’s defence minister, to explain a decision that effectively bans Palestinian workers from travelling to their West Bank homes on the same buses as Jewish settlers (Tait, 2014).
Israeli Apartheid in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
Many are continuing to ask whether such actions show Israeli Apartheid measures against the Palestinians. For example, a Haaretz editorial entitled “Welcome Aboard Israel’s Apartheid Bus” said that
“The minister’s decision reeks of apartheid, typical of the Israeli occupation regime in the territories. One of the most blatant symbols of the regime of racial separation in South Africa was the separate bus lines for whites and blacks. Now, Ya’alon has implemented the same policy in the occupied territories. In so doing, he justifies the claims of those who brand Israel internationally as an apartheid state.”
Others on the left in Israel have echoed similar points. As the Jerusalem Post explains, “Israeli left-wing politicians and activists immediately attacked the decision, calling it tantamount to apartheid because it prevented Palestinians from using Israeli public transportation lines.”
Let us hope that this decision will indeed to halted immediately, as it is going against the fundamental human rights of Palestinians. Along with demanding an end to this racist law, we must also continue to call for the immediate end to the Israel Occupation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which have done significant harm to the Palestinians.