Is­raelis, Pales­tini­ans are seg­re­gated on new road

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - REMEMBERING -

JERUSALEM — Is­rael has opened a new high­way in the oc­cu­pied West Bank that fea­tures a large con­crete wall to seg­re­gate Is­raeli and Pales­tinian traf­fic.

One side of Route 4370 — lo­cated north­east of Jerusalem — is open to Is­raeli ve­hi­cles only, while the other half is 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 ring road east of Jerusalem that would con­nect the north­ern and south­ern West Bank. Con­struc­tion be­gan in 2005, but the 3-mile road lay un­fin­ished for years un­til 2017.

Is­raeli of­fi­cials in­au­gu­rat­ing the new road 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 co­ex­is­tence be­tween Is­raelis and Pales­tinian 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.”

“It’s a shame on the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to see an apartheid regime be­ing es­tab­lished and deep­ened with­out do­ing any­thing to stop it,” the state­ment said.

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. With the road com­pleted, Is­rael could ar­gue that the ter­ri­tory was still con­tigu­ous.

Devel­op­ment in E1 has been largely frozen un­der U.S. pres­sure, even as Is­raeli set­tle­ment con­struc­tion in the West Bank has boomed un­der the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Betty Her­schman, a spokes­woman for the Ir Amim ac­tivist or­ga­ni­za­tion, said that “we can only spec­u­late” con­cern­ing the tim­ing of the high­way’s open­ing af­ter years of dor­mancy, “but what we do know is that be­cause of the re­la­tion­ship to E1, we should all be on high alert as to what this in­di­cates.”

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Is­rael has opened a West Bank high­way that has a wall be­tween Is­raeli and Pales­tinian traf­fic. The Pales­tinian Author­ity has con­demned it as an “apartheid” road.

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