‘Apartheid Road’ opens in West Bank, with one side for settlers & the other for Palestinians

Route 4370 opened Wednesday after a long delay. The east side of the road is for settlers only, and connects the Geva Binyamin settlement to the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway.

The Palestinian side of the road allows drivers to bypass the city of Jerusalem, which Palestinians cannot enter without a special permit, to get to other parts of the West Bank, like Ramallah.

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The road will ease congestion for both sides, but its hulking wall topped with iron fencing is seen as a symbol of segregation of Palestinians from Israeli settlers. The road’s opening stalled for 10 years due to a dispute between Israeli police and the army over who would run a checkpoint there.

Palestinians are banned from using about 40 kilometers of roads within the Palestinian territory of the West Bank, while an additional 20 kilometers of roads are partially off-limits. Settlers can travel freely on these roads, which have been built by Israel to connect them to different settlements and to Jerusalem.

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Although the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem are Palestinian territories, Israel controls all entry and exit points in the West Bank, including those leading to East Jerusalem, which it has annexed. Palestinians must acquire a special permit to enter the city, and to transit through Israel to get to different Palestinian territories.

The restrictions impede Palestinians’ right to freedom of movement within states, which falls under article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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Route 4370’s wall isn’t the biggest one dividing the area. The Separation Barrier, also dubbed the apartheid wall, snakes 708 kilometers around the West Bank, encroaching as much as 18 kilometers inside Palestinian territory, and in parts, blocks Palestinians from accessing their fields and visiting friends and family.

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