News / Middle East

Israeli Bus Line for Palestinians Causes Stir

Palestinians laborers board a Palestinian-only bus on route to the West Bank after working in Tel Aviv, March 4, 2013.
Palestinians laborers board a Palestinian-only bus on route to the West Bank after working in Tel Aviv, March 4, 2013.
Scott Bobb
A decision by the Israeli government to bus Palestinians from the West Bank to jobs in Israel has sparked controversy. The Israeli government said it launched the bus program for Palestinian workers Monday to relieve overcrowding and as a gesture of goodwill.
Nearly 40,000 Palestinians living in the West Bank have permission to travel to Israel to work, and thousands of Israelis living in West Bank settlements also travel by bus to jobs in Israel.
But the move has already drawn harsh criticism from Israeli rights activists such as Jessica Montel, director of B'Tselem, who told Israeli radio the bus program segregates people by race and nationality.
“The idea that you would have separate bus lines for Palestinians as opposed to Israelis is appalling," she said. "It's hard to see it as anything other than racist.”
Uzi Itzhaki, director of Israel's Transportation Ministry, denies the new service harbors any racial motives.
"Public transportation is open for everybody," he said. "The Palestinian workers who enter Israel tomorrow or today can use any public transportation including the settlers' buses in the West Bank."
According to news reports by Reuters and The New York Times, however, some Palestinians have been forcibly removed from established bus routes at highway security checkpoints and told to board different buses specifically designated for Palestinian commuters.

More than 300,000 Israelis reside in West Bank settlements, often close to Palestinian neighborhoods; many Palestinians consider them occupiers and there are frequent clashes between members of the two communities.
News reports say the Israeli government began studying additional buses for Palestinians after complaints from Jewish settlers that they feared for their safety on the bus routes.
Palestinian workers who travelled on the first new bus lines seemed to approve of them, saying that on the old bus lines they were often abused by settlers and some had been kicked off and forced to walk.
B'Tselem's Montell noted that separation according to nationality, race or gender is against the law in Israel and said her group would be monitoring.
“Anyone who tries to get on a bus and is prevented because of their nationality, we would document that case, we would file a complaint," she said. "That clearly is a violation of the law, telling a person that they can't ride a bus because of their ethnicity or nationality.”
Most Western governments consider the settlements illegal under international law, which the Israeli government disputes.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Sapporo from: Yoshi
March 07, 2013 4:44 AM
It is my surprise that such a large number of Parestinians go to work with Isaraeli companies.

by: Ben
March 06, 2013 2:11 PM
VOA turned into anti-Israel dirt gatherers. There are enough Jewish antisemites everywhere, so Israelization of the anti-Israel cold war became the habbit.

by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
March 05, 2013 6:39 PM
The buses run to and from the West Bank, Israelis are not allowed to build in Ramallah, but in the future the buses will be able to serve Israelis and Palestinians, once they are allowed to build in Ramallah and the other Palestinian settlements. As part of the two State solution, it is expected that the future Palestinian state will be the only Arab multi-ethnic and multi-religeous state, where Jews and Muslims will be allowed to prosper and live side by side as they do in Israel proper. Right now, the Palestinians use the service to get to and from Israeli provided jobs; but as unemployment goes up, in Israel, maybe the buses will no longer be required.
I guess Israeli and foreign tourists could take the buses to Ramallah and other Palestinian setlements in the WB, when there is peace and once it is safe for them to go there.

by: Denis Marx from: Israel
March 05, 2013 4:20 PM
I guess the media hasn't mentioned the pervasive stabbing incidents just because most of the victims are elderly Russian and African immigrants... God forbid if the victim will be an American Immigrant... only then CNN might be interested...

by: Sandra from: UK
March 05, 2013 2:04 PM
why did you omit to mention the rate of Arabs Palestinians who stab and slash elderly Israelis on these buses without any provocation??? A stabbing incident occurs at least twice a week on these lines. The poor Palestinians stab elderly women and slashed the faces of young Israeli girls at an increasing rate. why won't you mentioned it???

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs