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Apartheid Policies Put Israel on Path to Becoming Failed State

Apartheid Policies Put Israel on Path to Becoming Failed State

It is not right-wing governments that institutionalized racial domination here; the process started decades before they took power.

Roy Isacowitz for Haaretz

I like and respect Benjamin Pogrund enormously, but he is wrong on three counts (“Israeli policy is not apartheid,” Haaretz  August 25.)
Since 2002, apartheid has been defined as a crime against humanity in international law. That definition is enshrined in Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which refers to the definition of apartheid in the 1973 United Nations International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.

South Africa (or to be accurate southern Africa) is only mentioned once in the ICSPCA, as providing an example of the “policies and practices” of racial discrimination. It then goes on to define them in detail, without reference to South Africa. The Rome Statute doesn’t mention South Africa at all, other than specifying it as a signatory to the treaty (from 1998) and in various footnotes and references.
All of which means that apartheid has an international legal standing beyond and irrespective of its roots in South Africa. It is the exemplar of apartheid, but by no means the required model.

All that is necessary is that a country commit “inhumane acts,” as defined by the statute, in the context of an “institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime,” as paraphrased in the first paragraph of Article 7 of the Rome Statute.

Anyone who thinks Israel fits that description can legitimately and accurately describe it as an apartheid state. Those are the facts. The rest is just semantics – and the pedantic flogging of a dead horse.
The fact that Israel is not a signatory to the Rome Statute has no bearing on the validity of its definition of apartheid in international law.

But it’s another statement by Pogrund that’s the real hair-raiser. “What [Bradley] Burston insists is apartheid,” he writes, “are the actions of a right-wing government behaving like a right-wing government.”

Really? As if the occupation began with Benjamin Netanyahu and he, rather than Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin, was the godfather of the settlements. As if it was a right-wing government that conducted the ethnic cleansing of 1948 and developed Israel’s clandestine nuclear capacity (according to foreign reports), thus thrusting the entire region into a nuclear arms race.

As if Israel’s current government is a Jewish version of Margaret  Thatcher’s or Silvio  Berlusconi’s – a little rough around the edges, a bit too strident in its pronouncements and no friend of the working man – but basically well within the Western, democratic consensus.

Israel’s colonial dispossession and subjugation of the Palestinians began long before Netanyahu and long before the first right-wing government took office in 1977. In fact, it began long before the first so-called left-wing government took office as well.

The Israel of today – irredentist, paranoid, intolerant and increasingly unhinged – is the culmination of a process that began at the turn of the 20th century, when the early Zionists created the myth of a “land without people for a people without land” and set about expropriating Palestinian land. (Not dissimilar, by the way, to the hundreds of years of racial discrimination that preceded the formal system known as apartheid.)

It took more than one group of right-wing Israeli politicians, however toxic, to create the “institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime,” described by the Rome Statute. It took over 100 years of determined effort – including wars, massacres, population upheavals, mass detentions, discriminatory legislation, military administration, arbitrary killings and so on – until Israel got to where it is today.

Rather than Pogrund’s blithe “right-wing government behaving like a right-wing government,” (with its promise that everything could just change at the next elections,) Israel is a solid, seemingly immovable edifice of colonial revanchism and ethnic superiority, led by a fanatic cult bent on ultimate glory or suicide.

In such a situation, I’m afraid Pogrund’s prescription of “Keep strong, stay on track” is of little comfort.

And then there’s Pogrund’s outlandish statement that “Opponents [of the apartheid regime in South Africa] felt helpless to stem the tide. But they stood firm and went on believing in a nonracist and democratic South Africa.”

Come on, Benjy, that’s just a little too much icing on the rainbow-nation cake. Some, mainly white, opponents stood firm and kept on believing, but many others – black, white and in-between – turned to violence. The regime deliberately turned tribes against each other; hundreds of thousands of people died in ethnic violence. Even more left the country in despair. The economy collapsed and South Africa became a failed state. Over 20 years later, it has yet to recover.

That South Africa didn’t disintegrate into civil war was more luck, Nelson Mandela and F. W. de Klerk than anything else. It could easily have gone the other way. Is Pogrund really recommending that we chance the same thing here in Israel?

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Israeli Occupation Court Orders Demolition Of Palestinian Football Field -Sports Under Occupation

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — An Israeli court has ruled to demolish a football field and its facilities in occupied East Jerusalem, a local committee said Thursday.The owners of the property, located in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, received a demolition order in the mail over 70 days after the court had passed the ruling at the beginning of June, the Wadi Hilweh Information Center said.The “demolition and removal” order had allowed for an appeal to be lodged within 30 days of the ruling.The ruling includes the demolition of a 1.5 dunam sports field as well as a neighboring warehouse and animal shed.Silwan committee member Ahmad Qaraeen said the ruling required that anyone who chose to object to the order would be fined and forced to pay demolition and removal fees. He added that Israeli authorities are aware that the owners of the land — the heirs to Atallah Siyam — regularly allowed the area to be used by Mada Creative center for activities. Qareen said that the Israeli municipality attempted to confiscate the land in 2007 and turn it into a parking lot, but that the move was appealed in court and the land owners built a football field on the property in 2009 after receiving approval from the central court. In 2012, the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority demolished several of the family’s facilities under the pretense of “removing trash,” he added.Silwan is one of many Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem that is seeing an influx of Israeli settlers at the cost of the demolition of Palestinian homes and eviction of Palestinian families.Israeli authorities have carried out around 370 demolitions of Palestinian property in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the start of 2015, displacing an estimated 432 residents, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.Thousands of Palestinian residents are at risk of losing their homes, as members of the current right-wing Israeli government continue to champion longstanding policies to obtain a Jewish majority in East Jerusalem.East Jerusalem was occupied by Israel in 1967 in a move never recognized by the international community, and four decades of Israeli policy in the area have neglected the Palestinian community while fostering the growth of Jewish settlement.

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It’s Time to Admit It. Israeli Policy Is What It Is: Apartheid

Bradley Burston for Haaretz

What I’m about to write will not come easily for me.

I used to be one of those people who took issue with the label of apartheid as applied to Israel. I was one of those people who could be counted on to argue that, while the country’s settlement and occupation policies were anti-democratic and brutal and slow-dose suicidal, the word apartheid did not apply.

I’m not one of those people any more.  Not after the last few weeks.

Not after terrorists firebombed a West Bank Palestinian home, annihilating a family, murdering an 18-month-old boy and his father, burning his mother over 90 percent of her body – only to have Israel’s government rule the family ineligible for the financial support and compensation automatically granted Israeli victims of terrorism, settlers included.

I can’t pretend anymore. Not after Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, explicitly declaring stone-throwing to be terrorism, drove the passage of a bill holding stone-throwers liable to up to 20 years in prison.

The law did not specify that it targeted only Palestinian stone-throwers. It didn’t have to.
Just one week later, pro-settlement Jews hurled rocks, furniture, and bottles of urine at Israeli soldiers and police at a West Bank settlement, and in response, Benjamin Netanyahu immediately rewarded the Jewish stone-throwers with a pledge to build hundreds of new settlement homes.

This is what has become of the rule of law. Two sets of books. One for Us, and one to throw at Them. Apartheid.

We are what we have created. We are what we do, and the injury we do in a thousand ways to millions of others. We are what we turn a blind eye to. Our Israel is what it has become: Apartheid.

There was a time when I drew a distinction between Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies and this country I have loved so long.
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No more. Every single day we wake to yet another outrage.

I used to be a person who wanted to believe that there were moral and democratic limits – or, failing that, pragmatic constraints – to how low the prime minister was willing to go, how far he was willing to bend to the proud proponents of apartheid, in order to bolster his power.

Not any more. Not after Danny Danon.

Not when the prime minister’s choice to represent all of us, all of Israel at the United Nations, is a man who proposed legislation to annex the West Bank, effectively creating Bantustans for Palestinians who would live there stateless, deprived of basic human rights.

The man who will represent all of us at the United Nations, the man who will speak to the Third World on our behalf, is the same man who called African asylum seekers in Israel “a national plague.”

The man who will represent all of us at the United Nations is the same politician who proposed legislation aimed at crippling left-leaning NGOs which come to the aid of Palestinian civilians and oppose the institution of occupation, while giving the government a green light to keep financially supporting right-wing NGOs suspected of channeling funds to support violence by pro-settlement Jews.

What does apartheid mean, in Israeli terms?

Apartheid means fundamentalist clergy spearheading the deepening of segregation, inequality, supremacism, and subjugation.

Apartheid means Likud lawmaker and former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter calling Sunday for separate, segregated roads and highways for Jews and Arabs in the West Bank.

Apartheid means hundreds of attacks by settlers targeting Palestinian property, livelihoods, and lives, without convictions, charges, or even suspects. Apartheid means uncounted Palestinians jailed without trial, shot dead without trial, shot dead in the back while fleeing and without just cause.

Apartheid means Israeli officials using the army, police, military courts, and draconian administrative detentions, not only to head off terrorism, but to curtail nearly every avenue of non-violent protest available to Palestinians.

Late last month, over the explicit protest of the head of the Israeli Medical Association and human rights groups combatting torture, Israel enacted the government’s “Law to Prevent Harm Caused by Hunger Strikes.” The law allows force-feeding of prisoners, even if the prisoner refuses, if the striker’s life is deemed in danger.

Netanyahu’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who pushed hard for passage of the bill, has called hunger strikes by Palestinian security prisoners jailed for months without charge or trial “a  new type of suicide terrorist attack through which they will threaten the State of Israel”.

Only under a system as warped as apartheid, does a government need to label and treat non-violence as terrorism.

Years ago, in apartheid South Africa, Jews who loved their country and hated its policies, took courageous roles in defeating with non-violence a regime of racism and denial of human rights.

May we in Israel follow their example.

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Apartheid Media: Israeli Occupation Orders Shutdown Of Palestinian Television Station


Israel’s public security minister has decreed that a new Palestinian TV station geared towards Palestinian citizens of Israel cannot broadcast from Israel for six months.

Gilad Erdan signed an order on Thursday barring the Palestinian Authority-funded station F48, or Palestine 48, from operating from its headquarters in the Northern Israeli city of Nazareth. The decision was made because of the Palestinian Authority’s role in the station, not because of questionable content being shown on the channel.

Erdan said that he does not want “Israel’s sovereignty to be harmed” or for the Palestinian Authority to gain a “foothold” in the country.

Last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the head of the Communications Ministry to work on shuttering the station. Netanyahu urged ministry staffers to investigate the channel’s legality, particularly with regard to Palestinian Authority funding.

Riad Hassan, head of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, called the move “illegal” and said that two Israeli companies who produce content for the channel will contest the action in Israel’s Supreme Court.

The channel, which debuted on air last month, will continue to produce content from its other headquarters in Ramallah, in the West Bank. Hassan has said the station’s goal is to illuminate the “social, cultural and economic difficulties” of Israeli Arabs.

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Apartheid Swimming Pool: Israeli Occupation Forces Evacuate Palestinians From Pool

Bitter waters: Settlers invade ancient pool under Palestinian control Dozens of Israeli soldiers ordered Palestinian children to get out of a swimming pool in Area A – ostensibly under PA control – in advance of a visit by hundreds of settlers.

By Gideon Levy and Alex Levac

It’s a day that won’t be forgotten in the arid, far-flung village of Al-Karmel, in the southern reaches of Mount Hebron. Even now, two months later, the resident are overwrought when they tell the story of what happened, their rage and feeling of humiliation still palpable.

No blood was shed that day, no one was arrested or beaten, no home was demolished, no disaster occurred. But still, in Al-Karmel they haven’t forgotten. The mayor of the nearby city of Yatta remembers; the lifeguard, the gardener and the eyewitnesses remember. But above all it’s the children who remember: It was they were removed, forcefully and under the threat of rifles, from the water, because the settlers were coming. The lords of the land swept into the park under the aegis of the Israel Occupation Army, which kicked the Palestinians out of the only recreation site in the area.

It was April 7, the third day of Hol Hamo’ed (the intermediate days) of Passover; the same thing also happened a few days later, albeit on a smaller scale. But everyone in Al-Karmel remembers the day apartheid came to their ancient pool.

Isa Abu Sabiyah was at his home in the village. He’s 45, unemployed, the father of five children. In the late morning he noticed dozens of Israel Defense Forces soldiers swooping down on the swimming pool at the bottom of the slope below his home. He became anxious; he’d never seen so many soldiers at the pool.

Birket Al-Karmel, an ancient water reservoir, was renovated in recent years, at a cost of millions of shekels, and turned into a recreation site. We visited this pool many years ago, when it was still a neglected site dating from the Ottoman period. We watched the children of Al-Karmel jump from high up into the stagnant water, risking their lives with every leap. A series of pictures taken at the time by photographer Miki Kratsman became iconic images.

The pool was renovated with funds from Yatta and donations, collected from both wealthy West Bank Palestinians and from abroad, at a cost of about 4 million shekels ($1 million), and the place was transformed. The pool is surrounded by a low wall, to prevent from jumping in, and the city now is planning to install a high fence, to prevent access to the site when it is closed. The terraces, decorative landscaping, Hebron stones, washrooms and a spring that gushes from the rock next to the pool – all make this one of the most spectacular outdoor sites in the West Bank.

The renovations are scheduled to be completed this year. A restaurant and café will be built, at a cost of another 1.2 million shekels, says Yatta Mayor Mussa Mhamra, in addition to the fence. The fence is obviously sorely needed.

Abu Sabiyah watched as the soldiers rushed into the park. They surrounded the pool and ordered the children, all of them Palestinians, out of the water. Abu Sabiyah remembers that there were about 20 children swimming at the time, and all of them were forced to climb out. There were a few dozen local adults on hand as well. The soldiers, reinforced by a contingent from the Border Police, concentrated them all one corner of the park.

The troops’ “cleansing” operation was quickly accomplished. Abu Sabiyah called the Yatta municipality, which manages the site, to report on the intrusion. The mayor rushed over immediately, but to no avail.

Later that day, the lords of the land arrived. Hundreds of settlers. It was the Passover week holiday, and this was, according to the ads, a heritage trip sponsored by the Susiya Tour and Study Center, under IDF protection, as usual.

Some of the settlers jumped into the water, others stood and listened to the guides, who explained that this place belongs to the Jews. A few prayed – Abu Sabiyah says some of the men also put on tefillin.

“They even put dogs in the water. Did you ever see dogs in a pool? We don’t do that, but they do,” he adds.

This week, B’Tselem: the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, posted photographs shot by one of its field investigators of this disgraceful event. Hundreds of settlers, the men in skullcaps, triumphantly encircle the huge pool while a few of them splash about in the water. The Palestinians stand to one side, in the corner allotted to them, shamed and cowed, while armed soldiers secure the settlers.

It’s important to point out that all this occurred in Area A, which under the Oslo Accords is under Palestinian control. But who cares?

“If I go now to the [nearby] settlement of Carmel, would anyone let me in?” Abu Sabiyah says bitterly. “Would I be allowed into the settlement of Maon? And why would I go there, anyway? They come here only to make trouble.”

The settlers’ frolicking went on for about two hours, until dusk. The uninvited guests left at about 5:30 or 6 P.M. The settlers left, the soldiers left, the Border Policemen left, too.

A similar event occurred again about two weeks ago. The park’s gardener, Yakub Abu Haram, relates that at dawn on May 28, when he arrived for work, he saw a military force there, and about 10 settlers in the pool. The soldiers tried to prevent him from entering the site, even after he told them he works there. The lifeguard, Osama Mhamra, says that he too saw the soldiers from his house, before he left for the pool.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit says that the army has no information about this more recent occurrence.

As for the event during Passover, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit offered the following response when asked whether it’s the army’s task to secure events in which settlers invade Area A: “On April 7, 2015, specific authorization was given by the relevant personnel in Central Command for settlers to enter a pool in whose area the biblical settlement of Carmel was located in the past and which is now in Area A. Nothing exceptional was recorded during the event. The Palestinians were allowed to be present in the area of the compound, and there were Palestinian attendants there.

“As a rule, Israelis are not allowed into Area A, and any such entry requires specific authorization of the GOC. After the entry during Hol Hamo’ed of Passover, no additional entry of soldiers into the pool area has occurred that is known [to the IDF].”

A few children were playing in the pool this week in the middle of a broiling-hot day. There’s still no shade at the site; creating shaded areas will be part of the next stage of development. Mayor Mhamra arrived in his pickup, accompanied by a uniformed security man from the Palestinian Authority and a member of the municipal council. Mhamra and the councilman have saved a video clip of the Passover visit on their cellphones.

The mayor heads a metropolitan area that covers a huge area and has 110,000 inhabitants. The Al-Karmel pool is its only recreation site. A lawyer and a member of the Palestinian People’s Party, formerly the Communist Party, he was active on the Committee for the Protection of the Lands, a Palestinian organization. Only after the interview does he reveal that he speaks fluent Hebrew, as does the councilman, Yasser Bader. The two have just come from the village of Susiya, which the Palestinian prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, visited that day in the company of European diplomats who came to protest Israel’s plan to demolish the village.

Mhamra, in a white shirt, denies that the settlers’ visit on Passover was pre-arranged with him. “We have bitter experience with the settlers in the region,” he says. “They are undesirable guests here. They are ‘guests with swords.’ We will treat them in the same way they treat us. If we can go to Tel Aviv, if there is peace and equality, then we will host Israelis here. Now we will build a fence here and post guards day and night, so that similar incidents do not recur.”

To which the muscular lifeguard, Osama Mhamra, adds, “You know, if I were to try to get to Al-Aqsa , I would be shot.”

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Everyday Apartheid: Palestinian Laborers Barred From Israeli Farming Community Cafeteria

Times of Israel

Arab laborers working in Kibbutz Hatzerim near Beersheba are barred from eating in the kibbutz cafeteria, Yedioth Ahronoth reports.

According to the report, several kibbutz members asked the cafeteria’s management to tell employers of the laborers not to allow them to eat there, and the managers agreed. After a furor was raised, the management decided to allow the laborers to eat in the cafeteria if accompanied by a Jew.

A kibbutz member, Renen Yazerski, posted on Facebook: “Last week the kibbutz management decided that Arab laborers are good enough to enter the kibbutz and renovate and build our homes, but not, God forbid, eat in the same space with us in the cafeteria. Why are they not allowed to eat there? Because some mothers complained to the managers that the laborers look ‘scary’ […] a decision that is miserable, ugly, anti-democratic and racist…”

The kibbutz management said in its defense that “Kibbutz Hatzerim is private property, where no foreign persons are allowed without accompaniment.”

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Israeli Occupation Detains Palestine National Team At Border..Again. #FIFA #RedCard Israel

Vice News

Palestinian National Team player Sameh Maraabah was detained for approximately three hours at the Allenby crossing point by the Israeli border patrol for “security reasons,” according to multiple sources familiar with the matter, before being released at approximately 11 p.m. local time. The Allenby crossing point is the only international border for Palestinians living in the West Bank. The team was on its way to Jordan where they would stay the night before flying to Tunisia for training. Palestine is scheduled to play Saudi Arabia on June 11.

This incident comes mere hours after FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s visit with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in advance of a resolution at next week’s FIFA Congress to suspend Israel for, among other allegations, restricting Palestinian player movement.

Two days prior, Blatter met with Netanyahu and assured the press he “remain[s] confident that we will find a solution for the benefit of football development ahead of the FIFA Congress.” According to multiple sources familiar with the matter, Blatter informed the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) that Netanyahu promised to ease travel restrictions for Palestinian players and officials, and one source tells VICE Sports that Netanyahu offered everything except for the disbanding of the five settlement teams playing in the Israeli leagues.

Multiple sources confirmed to VICE Sports that PFA President Jibril Rajoub turned down the offer and insisted the resolution go to vote at next week’s FIFA Congress. Maraabah’s detention late Thursday night only reinforces that decision, and, in the eyes of the PFA, undermines Netanyahu’s proposed compromise.

Sameh Maraabah (left). Image via WikiMedia Commons

Israeli-Arab Knesset member Esawi Frej, who belongs to the leftist Meretz party and has served as an intermediary between the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority, told VICE Sports: “I am happy that the Israeli authorities made the right decision and let the mind decide, not the heart, to let the international Palestinian team continue on their journey to Jordan. I call on both Palestinians and Israelis in this time to use wisdom and let the sports win, not politics.”

Esawi Frej. Image courtesy of Esawi Frej

This is not the first time Maraabah has been held by Israeli border forces. Maraabah was detained in April of 2014 under suspicion of being a “military activist” after allegedly meeting with members of Hamas’s military wing in Qatar.

According to a Palestinian Football Association spokesman, the PFA has already sent a letter to Blatter informing him of the incident. The letter, obtained by VICE Sports, is re-printed here in full:

Dear President,

Dear Brother

I hope you had the time to rest after your trip to our region and the busy schedule of meetings with both the Palestinian and Israeli sides.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the Israeli Government’s promise to facilitate the movement of our players is having its first test as I am writing this letter. Our National team, which is heading for Tunisia for a training camp, has been delayed at the Allenby crossing point by the Israeli authorities.

Player Sameh Maraabah has been detained by the Israeli authorities for two hours now, and the team has decided it will not leave without him.

The implications of this incident can only confirm the PFA’s position on the promises given by the Israeli Government; that they are only words unless they are included in solution that can only come through, and be guaranteed by the FIFA congress.

Sincerely Yours

Jibril Rajoub


Palestine Football Association

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Small Win: Israeli Ends Apartheid Bus Program 24 Hours After It Began Due to Uproar

The Israeli government has suspended a proposed ban on Palestinians travelling on the same buses as Israelis in the occupied West Bank, 24 hours after its implementation began.

The ban was introduced by Israel’s defence minister, but provoked outrage from figures in the Israeli opposition as well as from within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s own party.

What was supposed to be a three-month trial would have prevented Palestinians who commute to Israel for work from using the public transport available to Israelis living in West Bank settlements.

Opposition figures in Israel had slammed the system as resembling “apartheid”.

As criticism mounted on Wednesday morning, an official from Mr Netanyahu’s office announced the plan was to be put on hold.

“The proposal is unacceptable to the prime minister. He spoke with the defence minister this morning and it was decided that the proposal will be frozen,” the official told the AP news agency.

Israel To Offer Cross-Border Transportation Service For Palestinian Workers

Palestinian workers wait to cross into Israel

Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon had openly backed the segregation policy, telling Israel Public Radio it would allow for “better control of the Palestinians and those leaving Israel, and reduce security risks”.

Oren Hazan, a new member of parliament for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud party took to social media to welcome the announcement, describing it as “our first great achievement in the Knesset [Israeli Parliament]…after a long struggle we are on our way to restoring security to public transport”.

“Apartheid is, by definition, the separation between two citizens of the same state not getting equal rights, the Palestinians are not Israeli citizens,” Mr Hazan added.

Israel’s settler community has called for a separation programme to be introduced on public transport for many years.

An estimated half a million Jews live in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, built since Israel’s occupation of the territory in 1967.

But opposition figures were quick to attack the programme.

Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, who had hoped to replace Mr Netanyahu as prime minister in the recent general election, said in a Facebook post that the plan amounted to “warrantless humiliation” and was a “stain on the country and its citizens” that would increase “hatred toward Israel around the world”.

The leader of the left-wing Meretz party, Zehava Galon, said Israel’s Defence Ministry “gave in to pressure exerted by Jewish settlers, who complained over the large number of Palestinians on the buses…This is what apartheid looks like”.

According to the Haaretz newspaper, Gideon Saar, a former Interior Minister from Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party had also added his voice to the criticism, saying the ban should be scrapped to “minimise the grave damage to Israel and to the settlements”.

It comes as the UN’s new Middle East Envoy, Nikolay Mladenov, called upon Israel to freeze construction in the settlements and take more steps to resume negotiations with the Palestinians.

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Apartheid Bus Service: Israel begins separating Palestinian bus travel

Israel begins separating Palestinian bus travel in West Bank

Palestinian workers will now have to return to West Bank via the same checkpoints they entered Israel, and will not be able to ride on lines with Israelis.

Israel launched a pilot program Tuesday under directive from  Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, to separate Jewish and Palestinian bus travel in the West Bank.

Palestinian workers will now have to return from Israel to the West Bank via the same checkpoint they left and will not be allowed to ride Israeli bus lines.

The new regulations, implemented by the Civil Administration, could lengthen some workers’ commutes by as much as two hours, according to the human rights organizations that plan to appeal against the new rules to the High Court of Justice.

According to the plan, Palestinians who entered Israel to work via the Rayhan, Hala, Eliyahu and Eyal checkpoints may now only return to their homes via the same checkpoints through which they entered. They will also no longer be allowed to ride common buses with Israelis to the West Bank. The pilot is expected to last three months, after which it will be reviewed.

Until now, Palestinian workers who entered Israel could return to the territories any way they chose. In central Israel, many thousands of workers who crossed into Israel through the Eyal checkpoint often returned to their homes on transit company Afik’s buses to Ariel that travel on Israel’s Highway 5.

From now on, the workers will have to return to the Eyal checkpoint and travel on Palestinian buses from there to their residences. Palestinians who live close to Highway 5 and work in Israel will now have to travel north to the Eyal checkpoint. This commute could take as much as two hours longer than before.

Over the last few years, the Samaria Settlers Committee, along with Ariel resident and newly minted Likud MK Oren Hazan, has conducted a campaign calling for separation on buses.

Previous GOC Central Command Nitzan Alon rejected their claims that traveling on common buses constituted a security risk. Nitzan’s position had been that as these workers were already in Israel, in the event any of them were dangerous and wanted to conduct an attack, they could do so anywhere inside Israel and not necessarily on a bus home in the Samaria region.

Last October, Haaretz reported that Ya’alon accepted the settler committee’s claims and ordered that all Palestinians who entered Israel at the Eyal checkpoint exit there as well.

“You don’t need to be security expert to realize that 20 Arabs on a bus with a Jewish driver and two or three passengers and one soldier with a gun is a set-up for an attack,” Ya’alon said in response to criticism.

Haaretz also revealed the minutes of a subcommittee of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, in which Karnei Shomron council head Yigal Lahav said: “Arab travel on buses is a victory over the Jewish occupier” and that it gave them “the experience of traveling with Jewish women.” Yoni Dryer, a resident of Ariel, said that his wife had been heavily pregnant while traveling on the bus at one point, and the Arab workers had not gotten up to offer her their seats.

The program had been slated to take effect in late January, but it was delayed due to bureaucratic issues at the Civil Administration. The inclusion of three checkpoints in addition to Eyal was made for legal considerations, in order to protect the plan from possible High Court appeals.

The Defense Ministry was concerned that the state would have difficulty convincing judges that the separation was based on security and not ethnic grounds, due to the army’s stance that there is no security risk on the buses in Samaria and in light of the racist remarks that accompanied the idea of separate buses.

The state can now argue that the plan, which includes four checkpoints at various geographical locations, is a security necessity and is slated to ensure that all workers return to their homes.

Human rights organizations plan to appeal to the High Court against the new directive. Attorney Michael Sfard, counsel to the NGO Yesh Din, said: “If the Defense Ministry has in fact begun to implement a separation plan on buses to the West Bank, beyond the fact that the plan was implemented clandestinely out of fears that we might take steps to prevent it, this is a shameful and racist measure that causes Israel to deteriorate to a low moral point. We will fight this step with all legal means available.”


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Headlines From Palestine: May 14, 2015

PLO: We Will Not Resume Negotiations Until A Deadline Ending Israeli Occupation Is Set

Wasal Abu Yousef, a member of the PLO leadership, said Thursday that Palestinians would not return to the negotiation table with Israel unless a deadline for the end of the Israeli “occupation” is set, London-based newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported.

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Israeli Occupation Detains 13 Palestinians In West Bank, Youth In Jerusalem

Israeli forces detained overnight 13 Palestinians, including three between the ages of 16 and 19, from various West Bank districts, in addition to a youth in Jerusalem, said Palestine Prisoner’s Club (PPC).

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Palestinian Surgeons Perform Rare Operation At Hebron Public Hospital

Palestinian surgeons at Alia public hospital in Hebron in the southern West Bank on Wednesday successfully repaired a very uncommon skull deformity of a baby.

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PLO: Vatican Accord With Palestine A Contribution To Justice

The PLO praised the Vatican’s announcement Wednesday that it was preparing to sign its first accord with Palestine, viewing the upcoming signing of the agreement as a “genuine contribution to peace and justice.”

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Palestine Accumulates Official Reports For ICC

The documentation necessary for Palestine to bring Israel to the International Criminal Court will be approved before the end of 2015, says the ambassador of Palestine to Switzerland.

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Discriminatory Housing Policy Is Only Home Palestinian Israeli Citizens Know

In ruling against Bedouin, Israel’s top court ignored years-long institutionalized policy that created serious shortage of housing in Palestinian society.

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Talks Dissolve Between Israel And France Over UN Resolution On Palestine

Meetings between Israel and France fell apart last week after an argument erupted over French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius’ revived attempt to advance a resolution on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the United Nations Security Council, Israeli media reported Thursday.

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Israeli Apartheid Week Launched In Dozens Of US Universities

Israeli apartheid week activities were launched in several universities of the US, in coordination by the Students for Justice in Palestine organization, which has branches in many American universities, on Wednesday.

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