Jerusalem — 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.
The implementation of the bus lines comes after complaints from Jewish bus riders, who said that the buses were overcrowded and that they were concerned about security risks, Ynet reported. Jewish and Palestinian riders have gotten into verbal and physical scuffles 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 new lines will reduce congestion and will benefit Israelis and Palestinians alike,” the Transportation Ministry said in a statement. “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. Instating these lines was done with the knowledge and complete agreement of the Palestinians.”