West Bank: A newly-opened highway in the occupied West Bank has been hailed by Israelis but condemned by Palestinians, who are calling it “Apartheid Road”. It’s the first operational section of an eastern ring road around Jerusalem that could deny Palestinians access to parts of the West Bank and threaten a future Palestinian state.
Route 4370 has a high wall in the middle, topped with fencing that segregates the road into two separate two-way lanes.
The western side is for Palestinians in the West Bank to use to go around Jerusalem, which they cannot enter without an Israeli military-issued permit, while the eastern side serves Israeli settlers going to and from Jerusalem.
Palestinians from the village of Anata, which lies on the outskirts of Jerusalem but is separated from the city by Israel’s barrier wall, say part of the highway is built on Anata’s land.
‘They want to take that land’
“Anyone can see the Israelis’ plan,” said resident Ahmed Rifea. “A few months ago they wanted to take Khan al-Ahmar,” Khan al-Ahmar is the Bedouin village that garnered international attention after the Israeli government issued a demolition order against it. “Now they build this new road? They want to take that land,” Rifea said.
Originally encompassing 35,000 square-kilometres of land, Anata has shrunk to a little more than 1,000 square-km because more than 90 percent of it lies in Area C as agreed by the Oslo Accords, putting it under total Israeli civil and security control.
The Rifea family owns hundreds of dunams (tens of hectares) of land in Anata, but almost all of it has been confiscated by Israel for road and illegal Jewish settlement construction.