Israeli company to run separate buses for Palestinians

Afikim hopes to ease overcrowding on current West Bank trips, make traveling more convenient and less prone to conflict

An Afikim bus in the West Bank town of Ariel (photo credit: CC BY-SA, by Ori, Wikimedia Commons)
An Afikim bus in the West Bank town of Ariel (photo credit: CC BY-SA, by Ori, Wikimedia Commons)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli bus company will offer special bus lines to transport Palestinian passengers from the West Bank into central Israel.

The institution of the special lines by the Afikim bus company is meant to ease the overcrowding of bus lines that go into Jewish settlements, the Transportation Ministry told Ynet.

Palestinians cannot enter Jewish settlements. They board the buses at stops on the Trans-Samaria Highway.

Jewish bus riders have complained that the buses were overcrowded and said they were concerned about security risks, Ynet reported. Jewish and Palestinian riders have scuffled verbally and physically on the buses, according to reports.

The buses will run from stops near Palestinian communities into Israel. Still, the Palestinians legally cannot be refused permission to board the regular bus lines, an unnamed Afikim bus driver told Ynet. They could, however, be removed from the buses at Israeli checkpoints, which would be both inconvenient and humiliating.

“The new lines will replace irregular pirate lines that charge very high prices from Palestinian passengers,” the Transportation Ministry said in a statement. “The new lines will reduce congestion and will benefit Israelis and Palestinians alike.

“The Transportation Ministry is forbidden from preventing any passenger from boarding any line of public transportation, nor do we know of a directive to that effect. Instituting these lines was done with the knowledge and complete agreement of the Palestinians.”

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