Road opens with segregated lanes for Israelis, Palestinians

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Dubbed "Apartheid Road", Route 4370 links the Jewish-only Geva Binyamin Settlement to the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. It had remained closed, however, due to a long-running dispute between the Israeli army and police over who should man checkpoints along the highway.

Israeli public security minister Gilad Erdan, who attended the road's inauguration on Wednesday (Jan 10), called it "an example of the ability to create shared life between Israelis and Palestinians, while meeting the existing security challenges".

Palestinians and Israelis often share roads in the West Bank, although some are reserved exclusively for Israelis.

The road's opening prompted condemnation from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said in a press statement that the new Israeli plan "undermines the credibility of the global community and the possibility to reach a political solution to the conflict".

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Palestinians have long feared that the road and other similar construction projects in the area would eventually split the West Bank in half, further hindering Palestinian plans for a future state.

Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

According to Haaretz, the road was built over a decade ago.

Ir Amim, an Israeli NGO opposing Israel's settlement expansion activities, warned that the road facilitates settlers' commute at the expense of Palestinian communities.

"The deafening silence of the global organizations and governments worldwide to Israel's actions is allowing the Israeli occupation to destroy the remaining chances for a just peace and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital". It will make it easier for Israelis living in settlements south of Ramallah to enter Jerusalem. The road is divided in the middle by an eight-meter high wall.

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