A flurry of complaints from Israeli settlers has led to the introduction of a new “Arabs only” set of bus lines, which is designed to keep settlers from having to ride on the same buses with Palestinians, and to keep Palestinians from being on buses that might enter settlements.
The Transportation Ministry denied that the plans amounted to segregation, insisting that Palestinians would still be allowed to use either the old or new bus lines. Drivers on the old route, however, say they have been told not to admit Arab passengers starting Monday, when the new routes go into effect.
Settlers have complained that allowing Palestinians on buses that enter settlements was a “security risk,” even though there don’t appear to have been any incidents resulting from the long-standing practice. Israeli troops have also repeatedly boarded the mixed race buses and expelled all Arab passengers on the pretext of national security, though the Transportation Ministry insists they have no idea why.
The new “Arab only” bus routes are also supposed to theoretically allow settler passengers, though the Transportation Ministry was careful to only announce the new routes in Palestinian villages, and only with flyers admonishing them to stop using the existing routes.
Bus drivers assigned to the new routes have reportedly expressed concern about driving “Palestinian only” buses, saying that they fear the new routes could create a new series of problems, potentially being targeted by settlers and security forces as a convenient place to find a lot of Palestinians clustered together outside of their villages.
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