Netanyahu suspends Palestinian bus ban


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday ordered the suspension of a controversial measure banning Palestinians from riding the same buses as Jewish settlers when returning from Israel to the West Bank.

“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,” an official in Netanyahu’s office told AFP

Earlier on Wednesday, a Defence Ministry official said that Palestinians in the West Bank who commute to Israel to work will be banned from riding the same buses as Israelis to return home.

“Under a three-month pilot project, Palestinians who work in Israel will, starting Wednesday, need to return home by the same crossing without taking buses used by (Israeli) residents” of the occupied West Bank, the official had told AFP.

Hundreds of Palestinians travel each day to work in Israel from the occupied West Bank, mainly in the construction business, using travel permits each time they cross.

The official, who declined to be named, had said Palestinian workers would need to change buses to avoid riding vehicles carrying Israelis after crossing back into the West Bank.

Israeli public radio said Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon had agreed to the ban, adding that it would allow “better control of the Palestinians and those leaving Israel and reduce security risks”.

Israeli settlers in the West Bank have called for years for Palestinians to be banned from public transport there, arguing their presence poses a security risk.