Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

Israelis, Palestinians segregated on new highway

Cars drive along Route 4370 near Jerusalem Israel opens segregated highway dubbed 'Apartheid Road'
Pablo Mccormick | 13 January, 2019, 15:41

In 2002, Israel began to build a security barrier separating Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank in an apparent bid to bolster security following the Second Intifada; Palestinians dubbed the undertaking the "apartheid road", and the unveiling of another similar project is now causing controversy.

Global law views the entire West Bank as "occupied territory" and considers all Israeli settlement building there to be illegal.

The roughly 3.5km stretch, which was inaugurated on Wednesday, features an eight-meter high wall that puts Palestinian drivers, who are banned from entering the city, on the western side and Israeli settlers on the eastern side.

Most users will be residents of the settlements established on land north of Jerusalem, Haaretz reported.

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The road was built more than a decade ago but didn't open because of dispute between the army and the police over the staffing of a new checkpoint.

But a Palestine Liberation Organisation official joined others who have called it "the first apartheid road" and voiced fears it could create a precedent.

The Palestinian Authority said in a statement that the road posed a challenge to "the credibility of the global community".

The long-term goal is to provide settlers with another route to allow them to access Jerusalem more directly, said Aviv Tatarsky of Israeli NGO Ir Amim, which opposes settlement expansion.

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Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

Palestinian cartographer Khalil al-Tafakji warned Palestinian media outlets that opening the new road serves as a "prelude to displacing Palestinians from the area and starting settlement construction in the so-called E1 corridor".

The International Court of Justice said in 2004 that the apartheid wall violated international law and urged Israel to remove it.

Israeli settlement activity, deemed illegal by most world powers and under the global law, is considered one of the thorniest issues that hindered the peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis.

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