Palestinians who pass from the West Bank to Israel to work will not be riding the same buses as Israelis as of Wednesday, a Defense Ministry official said, AFP has reported.
"Under a three-month pilot project, Palestinians who work in Israel will, starting Wednesday, need to return home by the same crossings without taking buses used by Israeli residents of the occupied West Bank,” the official said.
Palestinian workers travel to Israel by bus to work mainly in the construction business and they use travel permits each time they pass.
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.
The new regulations, implemented by the Civil Administration, could lengthen some workers' commutes by as much as two hours, according to the human rights organisations that plan to appeal against the new rules to the High Court of Justice.
"If the Defense Ministry has in fact begun to implement a separation plan on buses to the West Bank, beyond the fact that the plan was implemented clandestinely out of fears that we might take steps to prevent it, this is a shameful and racist measure that causes Israel to deteriorate to a low moral point. We will fight this step with all legal means available," Attorney Michael Sfard said, a counsel to the NGO Yesh Din.