PM ‘Freezes’ Plans to Ban Palestinians from Judea-Samaria Buses

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday ordered the suspension of a controversial measure banning Palestinian Arab workers from riding the same buses as Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria when returning from work in Israeli cities.

"The proposal is unacceptable to the prime minister. He spoke with the defense minister this morning and it was decided that the proposal will be frozen," an official in Netanyahu's office told AFP.

Earlier Wednesday, left-wing MKs reacted furiously to the measures, approved by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon after campaigns by some Judea-Samaria residents who complained of frequent harassment by Palestinian workers.

The decision, two years ago, to allow Arabs on the buses that served Jews had "created a situation in which tens of thousands of Palestinian laborers, including thousands of illegal infiltrators, filled the bus lines, and made it impossible for the residents of Judea and Samaria communities who require public transport to return to their homes," according to Jewish Home MK Moti Yogev, who hailed Yaalon's decision.

The policy also brought about a situation rife with sexual harassment, theft, and a feeling of insecurity, charged Yogev – and mostly, great overcrowding that made it impossible for people to go from and to their homes.

But Labor and Opposition leader MK Yitzhak Herzog attacked the decision as "an unnecessary humiliation and a stain on the faces of the state and its citizens. Unneeded fuel on the fire of hatred toward Israel worldwide."

"This is another mistake by a prime minister who assists and surrenders to a woeful decision that has nothing to do with state security," Herzog continued, noting that the IDF's own evaluation was that shared buses presented no security threat.

"It would be best to avoid, at this time, steps that cause unnecessary damage to the reputation and image of the state of Israel, at such a sensitive time," he added.


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