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Netanyahu suspends W. Bank bus segregation

Hundreds of Palestinians travel each day to work in Israel from the occupied West Bank, mainly in the construction business

Published: Updated:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday ordered the suspension of a controversial measure banning Palestinians from riding the same buses as Jewish settlers when returning from Israel to the West Bank.

"The proposal is unacceptable to the prime minister. He spoke with the defense minister this morning and it was decided that the proposal will be frozen," an official in Netanyahu's office told AFP.

Earlier, a defense ministry official had said: "Under a three-month pilot project, Palestinians who work in Israel will, starting Wednesday, need to return home by the same crossing without taking buses used by (Israeli) residents" of the occupied West Bank.

Hundreds of Palestinians travel each day to work in Israel from the occupied West Bank, mainly in the construction business, using travel permits each time they cross.

The official, who declined to be named, said Palestinian workers would now need to change buses to avoid riding vehicles carrying Israelis after crossing back into the West Bank.

Israeli public radio said Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon had agreed to the ban, adding that it would allow "better control of the Palestinians and those leaving Israel and reduce security risks".

Israeli settlers in the West Bank have called for years for Palestinians to be banned from public transport there, arguing their presence poses a security risk.