The move came amid complaints from Israeli settlers of the occupied territories, many of whom regard Palestinian passengers as an inconvenience or a security risk.
“Obviously, everyone will start screaming ‘apartheid’ and ‘racism’ now,” one bus driver told YNet. “This really doesn’t feel right, and maybe (the ministry) should find a different solution, but the situation right now is impossible.”
Robert Mackey of the New York Times cited this video of one bus driver refusing a Palestinian man a ride to the West Bank in October. Apparently this situation is common, and it’s extremely tense.
“The most powerful, the most influential, the most dramatically policy-changing group in Israel are the settlers. They have the biggest lobby in the Israeli political arena. They basically almost control Israel, and critics of that group are getting smaller and smaller… It’s a pity because, as we say, they’ve ‘wagged the dog’ since 1974, the start of the settler movement.”
Ministry officials have been insisting that it “is not authorised to prevent any passenger from using public transport services,” but in practice Palestinians are still being told that they’re “not allowed on public transportation” — suggesting that the situation goes beyond rules of law.
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