The mayor of the illegal Beitar Illit settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank has said that he has ordered Arab passengers to be removed from buses and denied entry even if they hold a blue ID card. This is the permanent residency ID given to Palestinians from East Jerusalem.
“The police can interrogate me if they want to,” said an unrepentant Meir Rubenstein. He insisted on his decision being acted on despite the Israeli police and Ministry of Defence asking him to retract it.
Rubenstein said that buses were stopped at the entrance to the settlement and dozens of Palestinians with blue identity cards were removed from them. Last Thursday, residents of Beitar Illit were instructed to stay in their homes after an explosive device was found in a bag left inside a bus in the settlement.
The settlement mayor was arrested last year on suspicion of involvement in a murder in Jerusalem in 1990. He was released due to a lack of evidence.
All of Israel’s settlements and settlers are illegal under international law. Nevertheless, the extreme right-wing coalition government led by Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to push ahead with building and expanding settlements across the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.