TEL AVIV – A new decision by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to ban Palestinians from using buses from Al-Aquds (occupied Jerusalem) to occupied West Bank has sparked angry reactions as a clear indication on Israel’s apartheid, anti-Arab system.
“They say we take up space on the bus, but we don’t ride for free. I have no problem, let them give us our own buses,” Samir, a Palestinian laborer from Azun near Qalqilyah, told Haaretz.
“It all shows what democracy is worth to you guys – democracy for the Jews,” he added.
Ya’alon issued a directive banning the workers from the buses during a meeting with settler leaders, who have long been seeking to ban Palestinians from Israel-run transportation in the West Bank, Haaretz reported on Sunday.
The measure is scheduled to go into effect next month.
Palestinians won’t be able to take buses going directly from central Israel to the West Bank.
They will instead have to use other types of transportation to arrive at the Eyal Crossing, near Qalqilyah.
Like other Palestinians on the bus, Samir hasn’t heard the latest news about Ya’alon decision to prohibit Arabs from riding on Israeli buses.
Yet, he knows the situation of Palestinians on the bus line from the Tel Aviv area to the West Bank is problematic.
“Once a woman told me that we’re taking up space on the bus. I thought to myself: It’s not enough you’re occupying our land and taking our lives – you want our place on the bus,” Samir, a father of six, said.
“People see Arabs and think we fell from the sky. Believe me, together we could have made peace and the Middle East would be better than America, but for that you need to use your brain,” he added.
Israeli left-wing politicians and activists immediately attacked the decision, calling it tantamount to apartheid.
“This is an official governmental stamp on a policy of apartheid in the territories. Separating Jews and Palestinians only deepens Israel’s status as a pariah state,” Meretz party head Zehava Gal-On said in a prepared statement cited by Jerusalem Post.
“Not only has Defense Minister Ya’alon destroyed our relationship with the US, he is destroying our relationship with the entire world,” she charged.
Israel occupied the holy city of Al-Quds, the West Bank and Golan Heights in the 1967 war and later annexed them in a move not recognized by the international community or UN resolutions.
Since then, Israel has adopted a series of oppressive measures to force the Palestinians out of Al-Quds, including systematic demolition of their homes and building settlements.
There are more than 164 Jewish settlements in the West Bank, eating up more than 40 percent of the occupied West Bank.
The international community considers all settlements on the occupied land illegal.