Israel’s Transportation Minister, Yisrael Katz, has unveiled a plan to build a railway network in the occupied West Bank to serve Israeli settlers. He claims that the plan aims to make it easier to transport goods and passengers and that this will “advance the peace process”. International bodies will, he added, help to implement the project.
During a tour through one of Israel’s illegal settlements, Mr. Katz also said that the proposed Highway 505, which will link Tel Aviv to the Jordan Valley, “is a strategically important” project that could not be built simply “for political reasons”. In his understanding, settlement construction will resume after the end of the temporary freeze, because “Jews will live here forever”.
In response to the minister’s statements, the Peace Now movement warned that such plans will involve enormous expense to serve a small number of settlers.
Left-wing Knesset Member Dov Chanin said that Minister Katz should present solutions for real transportation problems in the country rather than initiate projects that essentially strengthen the occupation and settlement expansion. He added that the minister has not provided any solutions for the lack of public transportation on the outskirts of the cities, in villages and in Arab areas. He accused Katz of making use of public transportation issues to implement racist policies.