At the beginning of the week, separate bus lines were launched for Palestinians in the territories who travel into Israel. The Transportation Ministry claims the lines are meant to ease travel conditions for the Palestinians, but they’re actually another manifestation of a regime based on discrimination and segregation.

Although by law a Palestinian with a permit to enter Israel cannot be prevented from traveling on regular buses, the police is preparing to enforce the separation. Consequently, a Palestinian who reaches a checkpoint on a regular Israeli bus will be asked to get off and wait for the special bus.

Palestinians traveling from Tel Aviv to Samaria were apparently already being taken off buses last Thursday. According to witnesses, an entire busload of people were ordered off a bus near the Shaar Shomron interchange, and their identity cards were checked. All of the passengers turned out to be Palestinians, and they were ordered to leave the terminal and walk to the Azoun-Othma checkpoint, 2.5 kilometers away. According to the police, they were merely implementing Transportation Ministry instructions.

Around four years ago the High Court of Justice disallowed the ban on Palestinians traveling on Route 443, arguing that the military occupier cannot build roads in an occupied area that do not serve the local population. Then Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, however, got upset by the comparison the petitioners had made between separate roads and the apartheid regime in South Africa. But the decision to separate Palestinians and Jews on the buses is another component of an apartheid approach, and demonstrates that those petitioners’ arguments were not unfounded.

It’s clear that the bus segregation is part of a more principled separation between the populations that is expressed in almost every area: In the allocation of areas for residential construction, in the different legal systems, in the unequitable distribution of resources and in discriminatory travel regulations.

Occupied territory is meant to be managed by the occupying state as a temporary trust for the benefit of the local population. There are clear rules aimed at preventing the evolution of a colonial or apartheid regime. The way the State of Israel is managing the territories is a far cry from the way occupied lands are meant to be managed.

Rather than express “concern” for the Palestinians by excluding them from Jewish bus lines, it would behoove the prime minister to immediately put a stop to this racist segregation.