The Israeli human rights group B'tselem has issued a call for the repeal of a new Israeli law, set to go into effect on January 19th, that will forbid Palestinians from riding in any Israeli-plated car, unless they are a first-degree relative, or have obtained a special permit.
According to the group, "The order further aggravates the already harsh restrictions on the freedom of movement of West Bank Palestinians. For some time, Israel has restricted, completely or partially, Palestinian travel on major roads in the West Bank, which have been set aside for use of Israelis, primarily settlers. Despite these restrictions, Palestinians have been able to travel along these roads by taxi or other vehicles bearing Israeli license plates. The new order will close this 'loophole' and increase the discrimination between Israelis and Palestinians on certain roads."
The road system implemented by Israel in the West Bank has been called an 'apartheid' road system due to the fact that many of the roads constructed across Palestinian land are "Jewish-only" roads, on which Palestinians cannot travel.
The B'tselem report continues, "The order will also gravely impair family, social, trade, and political ties between West Bank Palestinians and Israelis, Arab and Jew. For example, a resident of Israel who drives a friend or a relative not of the first degree, such as a cousin or nephew, will be violating the order. The order also impedes the activity of humanitarian organizations, human rights organizations, and organizations providing assistance to the local population, whose work entails transporting Palestinians inside the West Bank."
"The penalties prescribed in the order are also discriminatory. Whereas an Israeli who violates the order is tried in a civilian court, where he will not expect a stiff punishment, the Palestinian violator is tried in a military court, where the defendant can anticipate a sentence of up to five years in jail and loss of magnetic card, thus preventing the person from obtaining various permits from the Israeli authorities."
"Under international law, Israel must respect the human rights of all persons under its authority. These rights include the right to equality, freedom of movement, maintain family ties and social ties, engage in political activity, and the right to work and earn a livelihood. The military authorities ignore the discriminatory nature of the order and justify it as a military necessity, for example, by restricting the number of Palestinians entering Israel in Israeli vehicles without a permit. However, even assuming that the order advances one security objective or another, the sweeping nature of the order, and the fact that it is not urgent (even in the eyes of the military authorities, who postponed its validity for two months) make the infringement of human rights in this case disproportionate, and therefore illegal."
B'tselem called on the Israeli military authorities to repeal the order as both unnecessary for security and unconscionably cruel and discriminatory toward the Palestinian people.