The new Bethlehem by-pass road, opened only two weeks ago complete with two tunnels and a bridge, has proved itself to be the most useful tool to date in the continuing Israeli policy of dividing the West Bank and perpetuating the apartheid policies of the Israeli government. This road, which replaces the now useless old Bethlehem by-pass road into the West Bank, cuts travel time, saves gas, and provides an easy access from Jerusalem to the southern West Bank. For Jewish settlers only, that is. This road has no checkpoint into Jerusalem, and only one checkpoint past Beit Jala near Bethlehem in the middle of the West Bank. This road is forbidden to Palestinians from the West Bank.
Last week, a lawyer for LAWE - The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment was stopped at this checkpoint in the middle of the West Bank, and forbidden to use the road although he had the necessary permission to enter Jerusalem. He insisted on seeing the orders stating that a Palestinian on legitimate business and with a valid permit was refused entry into Jerusalem on this road. The soldiers could produce no order, and only stated that their superiors had told them to bar entry. Shortly afterwards, a spokesperson for the army stated that this road was exclusively for the use of Jewish settlers and the Israeli army.
This road marks the first time that a by-pass road built in the West Bank has been blocked to West Bank residents. In the past the Israeli government had justified its $330 million dollar by-pass road construction plan in the West Bank, and the subsequent massive confiscation of Palestinian land to carry it out, by saying that it also would serve the Palestinian population. This road proves this claim to be false. The apartheid-style policies of dividing the West Bank through Jewish-only by-pass roads, and controlling the population through small "bantustans" called Area A, continues on its tragic course, dispossessing the native Palestinian population along the way.
LAWE - The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment is a non-governmental organization, dedicated to preserving human rights through legal advocacy. LAWE is also an affiliate member of the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights.
LAWE - The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights
and the Environment
PO Box 20873
Tel: (972) (2) 5812364/5824559
Fax: (972) (2) 5811072