Itongadol.- 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.
Israel cancels controversial travel ban for Palestinians after Left screams apartheid
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 affected 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.