Jewish Voice for Peace condemns a plan recently announced by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to effectively ban Palestinian workers commuting from the West Bank from traveling on Israeli buses. The move has prompted critics, including Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, to refer to the practice as a form of apartheid.
The move to segregate buses based on ethnicity has been seen as caving to pressure from Israeli settlers who claim concern for safety, yet the Israeli military has stated that Palestinian presence on buses is not a security risk. An IDF spokesperson stated that they have monitored the situation, that the Palestinian passengers have legitimate work permits, and that allegations from settlers about police reports were unfounded.
The segregation of buses is just one small part of an Israeli system which, at its core, designates different sets of rights and privileges based on religion and ethnicity. This latest move is yet another indication of escalating Israeli discrimination and aggression that is isolating Israel from global and increasingly US support. Recent announcements of aggressive settlement construction, the closure of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif compound, and the heavy-handed police operation known as Guardian of the Wall ongoing in East Jerusalem have heightened tensions between the U.S. and Israel. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki responded said these actions “are not conducive to peace…”
The bus segregation proposal would require Palestinian workers living in the West Bank to return home through the same checkpoint they entered, effectively banning them from using the buses used by Israeli settlers.
JVP has long spoken out against segregation policies in Israel and the Occupied Territories, and participated in a solidarity with Palestinian Freedom Riders campaign in 2011. JVP strongly condemns this recent announcement as yet another iteration of an ongoing pattern of discrimination and disenfranchisement.