(JTA) – Israel’s attorney general, Yehuda Weinstein, has called for an explanation of a proposed order that would prevent Palestinian workers from riding Israeli buses.
On Tuesday, Weinstein ordered Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon to explain the new guidelines, which will effectively ban the workers from the buses they ride to their homes in the West Bank.
The new rules, announced Sunday and slated to take effect in December, mandate that Palestinian workers return to the West Bank only through the Eyal crossing, near Kalkilya in central Israel, and continue on to their homes from there.
Government officials insist that the proposed order was issued for security reasons alone.
“The decision will not prevent Palestinians from going to work and continuing to make a living,” an employee of the defense minister’s bureau told Haaretz. “No one is stopping the Palestinians from continuing to work inside Israeli territory and reaching their destinations. The opposite is true. This is purely a security-related matter.”
Jewish residents of the West Bank and their local governments have waged a vociferous campaign over the last few years to prevent Palestinians who work in Israel from using Israeli public transportation in the West Bank. Among their reasons, they cited a lack of room on the buses for Jewish residents of the West Bank and Jewish female passengers saying that they have been harassed by the Palestinian labourers.