from Israel for all the Palestinians, namely Jordan—whose territory, of course, constitutes the vast bulk of the Palestine Mandate going back to the 1920s? One of those self-evident propositions that no one can utter, if one wants to remain persona grata in today’s insane liberal world. The concept of population transfer of the Palestinians out of Israel and its territories remains taboo even on the Israeli hard right. Except for Meir Kahane followers, whom I’m not particularly familiar with, and who of course are persona non grata, as I am, I’m the only writer I know of who keeps advocating it, based on Robert Locke’s seminal 2003
From Monday Palestinians travelling to day jobs into central Israel from the West Bank will be urged to board special buses at a checkpoint instead of the regular services used by Israelis.
The scheme was drawn up by the Israeli transport ministry after residents in two Jewish settlements complained that Palestinians travellers on the Trans-Samaria road — also known as Highway 5 — between the West Bank and Tel Aviv were a potential threat.
There were also reports of overcrowding and fights between Israeli and Palestinian passengers.
The transport ministry insisted the move was “designed to improve the service for Palestinians entering Israel”.
But some human rights groups called it “blatant racism” that resembled South African-style apartheid.
“They are institutionalising segregated services for Jews and non-Jews,” said Ofra Yeshua-Lyth, an activist with Women For Civil Disobedience, an Israeli-Palestinian campaign group. “Many people don’t class the Israeli situation as apartheid because for a long time, Israel refrained from the characteristics of petty apartheid, like separate roads, cafés and buses. This bus situation is a step in the direction of petty apartheid because people are being segregated in their daily activities.”
Avner Ovadia, a transport ministry spokesperson, said there was no official ban on Palestinian workers travelling on public buses.
“Furthermore, the transport ministry is not authorised to stop any passenger travelling on these bus routes,” he said.
But drivers with the Afikim bus company, which operates the Trans-Samaria route, said Palestinians attempting to use the regular services would be pointed towards a different bus.
“We are not allowed to refuse service and we will not order anyone to get off the bus, but from what we were told … there will be checks at
the checkpoint, and Palestinians will be asked to board their own buses,” one driver told Ynet, an Israeli news website.
Flyers in Arabic advertising the new service have been distributed at bus stops near Palestinian villages in the West Bank.
Yirsael Maidad, a spokesman for the Jewish Settlers Council, said Israelis felt justified in refusing to share buses with Palestinians because of Israel’s experience with suicide bombers.
“Since we ride buses with Arabs every day in Israel, it’s not a racist thing but for some strange reason, Arabs blow themselves up in buses and Israelis find that very unnerving,” he said. “If you were to ask some bright young radical, he would say forcing Arabs to ride Israeli uses would be a form of colonialism. Having their own buses should be very much welcomed as part of a state-building process.”
Campaigners say troops began ordering Palestinians with Israeli work permits off buses after settlers made complaints last November.
After witnessing one such incident, Ms Yeshua-Lyth lodged a report with Makhsom Watch, an Israeli group that monitors check point incidents. She described how soldiers herded around 30 Palestinian workers from a bus travelling from Tel Aviv to the West Bank.
“The soldier/officer roars: “Udrub!” (Move!) And then: “Sit on your butts! On your butts!,” she wrote. “They are then marched to the terminal fence and made to stand along it in a line, then to sit on the cold ground and wait.”
When the men asked why they had been taken from the bus, they were told “You’re not allowed to be on Highway 5” and “You’re not allowed to use public transportation at all”.
Palestinians say they have been forced to walk several miles to their homes or use expensive taxi services since the policy of removing them from buses began. An estimated 29,000 Palestinians travel to jobs in Israel every day, according to official figures.