Israeli authorities have bowed to pressure from Jewish settlers and ordered a ban on Palestinians from using Israeli-run buses in the West Bank, Israeli daily Haaretz reported Sunday.
According to the paper, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has issued instructions to the civil administration in the Israeli army to ban Palestinian workers from traveling by Israeli-run buses upon their return from their work places inside Israel to the West Bank.
The ban will go into effect at the beginning of next month, the paper said, noting that it came following intensive pressures from the settlers in the northern West Bank.
The paper said the settlers sought for the past year to prevent Palestinians from travelling in their busses for security reasons.
It noted that the decision contradicts the stance of the Israeli army leadership which asserted that the Palestinian workers do not pose any security risk because they already go through a security check before being given permits to enter Israel.
Palestinians in northern West Bank who works inside Israel need to pass through the Eyal checkpoint near Qalqilya city, where they are subject to security screening.
“Every day in the morning, we pass through Eyal checkpoint for security check, which takes more than two hours,” Ahmad al-Toor, 44, told Anadolu Agency.
“Upon our return, we use settlers’ buses in the West Bank, which pass near our villages,” he added.
“During our return trips, we are subject to frequent harassments by the settlers,” he added. “But standing for additional two hours under security pretexts when we return is too exhausting.”
The Israeli authorities has issued permits to nearly 150,000 Palestinian workers from the West Bank to work inside Israel.
About 500,000 Israelis now live in more than one hundred Jewish-only settlements built since Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967. The Palestinians want these areas, along with the Gaza Strip, to establish their future state.
International law views the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “occupied territories,” considering all Jewish settlement building on the land illegal.