Seg­re­gated high­way in West Bank

Weekend Herald - - World -

Is­rael has in­au­gu­rated a new high­way in the oc­cu­pied West Bank that fea­tures a large con­crete wall seg­re­gat­ing Is­raeli and Pales­tinian traf­fic.

One side of Route 4370 — lo­cated north­east of Jerusalem — will be open to Is­raeli ve­hi­cles only, while the other half will only be open to Pales­tinian traf­fic. Crit­ics have branded it an “apartheid” high­way, say­ing it is part of a seg­re­gated road sys­tem that ben­e­fits Jewish set­tlers.

The high­way was built as part of a planned ringroad east of Jerusalem that would con­nect the north­ern and south­ern West Bank. Con­struc­tion be­gan in 2005, but the 5km road lay un­fin­ished for years un­til 2017.

Is­raeli of­fi­cials inau­gu­rat­ing the new road on on Thursday touted it as a means of bet­ter con­nect­ing West Bank set­tle­ments north of Jerusalem to the city.

Is­raeli Pub­lic Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Gi­lad Er­dan called the high­way “an ex­am­ple of the abil­ity to cre­ate co-ex­is­tence be­tween Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans while guard­ing [against] the ex­ist­ing se­cu­rity chal­lenges.”

The Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity said in a state­ment that the “apartheid” road “poses a chal­lenge to the cred­i­bil­ity of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity”.

Is­rael cap­tured east Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 war, ter­ri­to­ries the Pales­tini­ans want to be part of their fu­ture state. The Pales­tini­ans and most of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity con­sider Is­raeli set­tle­ments to be il­le­gal and an ob­sta­cle to peace.

The east­ern ring road was con­ceived as a means of con­nect­ing the north­ern and south­ern West Bank. Crit­ics of the set­tle­ments fear that if the road is com­pleted, Is­rael will then pro­ceed with set­tle­ment con­struc­tion in an area east of Jerusalem known as E1.

The Pales­tini­ans have long feared that con­struc­tion in E1 would split the West Bank in half, mak­ing a fu­ture state in­vi­able.

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