The mayor of the Haredi West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit, near Jerusalem, has said he ordered Arabs to be taken off buses entering the city, even if they have Israeli citizenship.
Speaking yesterday with ultra-Orthodox news outlet Haskupim, Mayor Meir Rubinstein took pride in the practice, acknowledging that it’s illegal.
The interview comes after Beitar Illit was put under lockdown on Thursday after a suspected terrorist left explosive devices on a local bus. The bombs were discovered after they caught fire, without exploding. The perpetrator hasn’t been caught.
“We stopped the buses at the entrance to the city, we took off dozens of Palestinians with blue (Israeli) ID cards,” Rubinstein said, adding that he ordered the policy continued even after police and the Defense Ministry asked him about it.
“I gave them an order to continue with it, and if there are problems they could contact me. I’m willing to be prosecuted for it,” he said.
The Beitar Illit Municipality later issued a statement saying Rubinstein had “ordered Palestinians who are not Israeli residents to be prevented from boarding public transportation, thus avoiding checks at [military] checkpoints.
“In case it was misunderstood, we are clarifying that his intention was residents of the territories, holders of orange (Palestinian) ID cards.”