web analytics
October 24, 2016 / 22 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘public transportation’

Knesset Committee Convenes to Prepare for Lag B’Omer Mt. Meron Fire Festival

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

The Knesset Public Petitions Committee headed by MK Rabbi Yisrael Eichler (UTJ) convened Wednesday to evaluate preparations for the big pilgrimage to Mt. Meron next week. At a March committee meeting on the same topic, concerns were raised about the lack of cooperation among the organizers, and the lack of funds, lights, roads, parking places, and benches, to name but a few problems. Last night the committee convened again to receive answers and summarize the preparations for Lag B’Omer in Meron. The CEO of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the CEO of the National Center for the development of holy places, police officials, representatives of the Ministry of Transport and Hatzalah volunteers attended.

Committee chairman Eichler opened the meeting, saying, “This year the hearings were extremely optimistic. Unlike previous years, when everyone complained and threw the responsibility on the shoulders of others, this year we received written responses and constant updates of the performance in the field. Concerns were raised at the previous hearing. This time there is a feeling of freshness and acceptance of responsibility and cooperation that the preparations have been better organized, and I hope not to be proven wrong.”

Oded Plus, CEO of the Ministry of Religious Affairs said, “In past years the holy places center could not start work because they had debts of millions of shekels. We made sure to cover all the debts from previous years. A team led by myself and involving all the relevant factors formulated a budget of 25 million shekel ($6.46 million). I’ve been told that at this stage of the game preparations have never been up to where they are today.”

“We put up light poles on Route 89 and Route 866 and many more roads that were not properly lighted. We expanded the parking lots significantly,” Plus continued. “We added benches, drinking facilities and rescue centers in all the parking lots. All the tasks were carried out and we were on schedule. I’m optimistic. But we have to be careful. Certainly there may be problems. We have tried to anticipate them and prevent them. We have learned a lot of lessons from the previous years.”

Rabbi Yosef Schwinger, CEO of the National Center for the development of the holy places said, “This is the first year that we had a set budget two months before the event. In the past, we emphasized the people as a whole, this year we put an emphasis on the individual and the family. There will be dozens of drinking stations manned by multilingual stewards, dozens of shaded areas, hundreds of toilets connected to a sewer, and water infrastructure. We have established a special area for women to drink and rest. There are 12 diaper changing and nursing rooms with attendants on hand to help. We went down to the details in terms of individual treatment.”

Senior director of public transportation at the Transportation Ministry Dror Ganon reported that starting next Wednesday afternoon, May 18, busses would start to run from 14 destinations across the country, including two new subsidized destinations in Beitar Illit and Modiin Illit. He added, “Last year we finished the event with 7,000 trips and upwards of 300 thousand passengers. This year we expect an increase of 15 percent. We almost reached the maximum capacity of buses in Israel! 80% of the people use public transportation to get to Meron. We take almost 1,500 buses from private companies. There will also be a lot of stations leaving  the major cities, in Jerusalem itself there will be 7 stations. There are nearly 250 officials routing transport for the event.”

Officer Yossi Chemo, commander of police operations in the north, said, “We plan on deploying 5,000 police officers throughout the week in Meron. There will be 12 ambulances of Ezer M’Zion and another four of Lev Malka. There will also be volunteers of United Hatzalah and MDA. We ask the public to help them in their work and to obey their instructions.”

David Israel

Government to Vote Wednesday on Billion Shekel Plan to Help Arab Sector

Monday, December 28th, 2015

Arab officials have expressed outrage at the government’s decision to delay by three days a vote on a major five-year plan involving funding in huge segments of Arab municipalities.

The government postponed the vote until Wednesday on a NIS 15b funding plan for education, transportation, housing and employment because the targeted cities did not include mixed Arab-Jewish populations.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Social Services Minister Gila Gamliel created the plan allegedly hoping to change the way government allocates its funding for such purposes.

The ministers were reportedly hoping to give a swift economic push for development of Arab society in Israel, thereby narrowing the gaps between the Jewish and Arab populations.

But Likud Science Minister Ofir Akunis and Culture Minister Miri Regev both objected to the plan due to its lack of balance.

“It’s very important to include the mixed cities,” said Regev. “We’re allowed to represent them and we should not apologize because they [the mayors] are from Likud … not all of them are. We’re talking about Haifa, Tel Aviv-Yafo (Jaffa), Ramle, Lod and Akko – these billions of shekels need to serve the Arab public in mixed cities as well,” she said.

If passed, NIS 1.2 billion will be allocated to promote construction in Arab municipalities and NIS 1.4 billion will be used to improve public transportation in local authorities. For example, information about public schedules will be translated to Arabic for the first time and there will be an increase for subsidies to public transportation in Arab communities.

A full 40 percent of the State of Israel public transportation budget will be used in the Arab sector. In addition, 32.5 percent of funding in the economic development and employment sector will be allocated in 2016 to the development of industrial zones in Arab municipalities. Plus, 17.5 percent of the Small and Medium Business Agency budget will be allocated to Arab sector businesses.

The plan also includes significant investment in Arab sector education, particularly in the field of training educators in both elementary and higher education.

But nothing ever seems to be enough: Arab officials were outraged by the decision to postpone the vote three days, till Wednesday.

Hana Levi Julian

The Media and the ‘Palestinian Only’ Bus Lines

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

There seems to be no evidence whatsoever to back up accusations, in the Guardian and throughout the media, that new bus lines in Israel, serving Palestinians who live in the West Bank but work in central Israel, serve ‘Palestinians only.’

Prior to the launch of the new lines Israeli buses did not stop in towns controlled by the P.A., and Palestinians were dependent on transportation services by “pirate” (Arab) companies. (Alternately they could travel to an Israeli settlement, such as Ariel, and take a bus from there to Israeli cities across the green line).

Conal Urquhart’s Guardian report on the issue, which, in fairness, is no worse than others in the mainstream media, was titled “Israel to launch ‘Palestinian only’ bus service,” March 4, and begins:

The Israeli government will on Monday begin operating a “Palestinians-only” bus service to ferry Palestinian workers from the West Bank to Israel, encouraging them to use it instead of travelling with Israeli settlers on a similar route.

However, at no point does Urquhart attempt to buttress this sensational claim, nor indicate the source of the (“Palestinians only”) quote.

In fact, he then notes the following:

Officially anyone can use them, but the ministry of transport said that the new lines are meant to improve services for Palestinians.

In a statement to the Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, the ministry said: “The new lines are not separate lines for Palestinians but rather two designated lines meant to improve the services offered to Palestinian workers who enter Israel through Eyal Crossing.

As Lori Lowenthal Marcus of the Jewish Press pointed out, the “restrictions” pertain to “only” stopping at Palestinian towns in the territories, where Jews don’t live.

Urquhart continues:

Information on the new services, which are operated by the company Afikim, have reportedly only been advertised in Arabic and distributed only in Palestinian areas of the West Bank.

However, if the goal of the new bus line is to improve service for Palestinians living in the West Bank but working in Israel, it would certainly make sense to advertise the lines in Palestinian towns, and only in Arabic.

Again, Urquhart:

Palestinians used to use Palestinian minibuses and taxis to travel into Israel but Israel has increased the number of permits it gives to Palestinians which has led to more mixing on shared routes.

Indeed, Palestinians were dependent upon transportation services by unauthorized Arab companies which charged far more than the new Israeli lines do, and Urquhart, further in his report, quotes the Transportation Ministry official making a similar point.

For example, the public fare for Palestinians traveling to Raanana is reportedly 5.1 shekels (roughly $1.35), and to Tel Aviv will cost 10.6 shekels ($2.85). This is compared to roughly 40 shekels ($10.75) that passengers have been charged by the private transportation services.

Additionally, Transportation and Road Safety Minister Yisrael Katz was quoted in Israel HaYom as explaining that “Palestinians were permitted to use any public bus line they wished, including the ones used by settlers.”

Lowenthal Marcus makes the additional point:

The new bus lines are not, as the misleading headlines suggest, only for Arab Palestinians, the restriction they have is that they only stop at Arab towns in the territories, where – few would disagree – Jews with or without special identification would not dare go for fear – a legitimate one – of physical violence.  The fact remains that any Israeli citizens, Jewish, Christian or Zoroastrians, who live in the “Jewish” towns, were able to and did use the pre-existing bus lines.

As Seth Frantzman observed in the Jerusalem Post today:

The website of the bus company, Ofakim, shows that the No. 211 bus route begins near Kalkilya and travels to Tel Aviv with stops in Petah Tikvah, Bnei Brak and elsewhere. It doesn’t indicate that it is a “Palestinian only” bus or that Jews may not ride it. Ofakim claimed “We are not allowed to refuse service and we will not order anyone to get off the bus.”

Frantzman also argued that “nothing obvious prevents Arabs from commuting to a bus stop near a large Jewish community, to take a bus serving Ariel for instance.” He added that “there is no ‘segregation,’ no ‘separate but equal.’ No one is ‘sitting at the back.’”

Adam Levick

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/cifwatch/the-media-and-the-palestinian-only-bus-lines/2013/03/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: