(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) A pilot program launched Wednesday that sought to make separate bus lines available for Jews and Palestinians across Judea and Samaria was suspended several hours into the trial run, following blistering criticism.
The decision to suspend the pilot program was made following consultations between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who had initially approved it. The program planned to have Palestinians entering Israel though major checkpoints across Judea and Samaria return to their homes from the exact same checkpoint, effectively barring them from sharing bus lines with Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria.
The pilot program was meant to take place over the course of three months, after which point its results would be evaluated by the Defense Ministry.
But the program was met with scathing criticism. Before the suspension was announced, former Israeli interior minister Gideon Sa’ar (Likud) said, “The [program] is wrong, it undermines the settlement enterprise, and it seriously harms Israel’s international image.” Zionist Union party leader Isaac Herzog posted on Facebook, “The separation between Jews and Palestinians on public transportation is an unnecessary humiliation; it taints Israel and the Israeli public’s image, and it adds fuel to the fire of hatred against Israel worldwide.”
Member of Knesset Moti Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi), however, dismissed criticism of the program as “hypocrisy.”
“Those who criticize this decision are unfamiliar with the reality on the ground, and their irresponsible statements are riddles with lies and hypocrisy,” Yogev said. “The reality is that the Arabs living in Judea and Samaria have better lives than anyone in the neighboring Arab countries.”