UN Security Council meets over Israeli move to speed up settlement plans

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UN Security Council meets over Israeli move to speed up settlement plans

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The UN Security Council is due to hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday over current tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.

Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the planning process for new settlement homes in East Jerusalem will be speeded up.

Palestinians are also expected to bring up the dispute over Jerusalem’s holiest site.

A separate row has broken out over a plan it is said will effectively ban Palestinians from using certain Israeli-run buses in the West Bank.

Reports say that from December, Palestinian workers entering some areas of Israel from the West Bank will have to pass a checkpoint on their way home as well as on their way to work.

This, it is argued, would mean they cannot use direct buses.

Jewish settlers have welcomed the move.

“It’s important for me to say it: the situation in the buses is not normal. (There is) A lot of sexual harassment, a lot of humiliation by the Palestinians to the Israelis,” said Oren Hazan, chairman of the Youth Forum at the Ariel settlement in the West Bank.

The plan was put forward by Israel’s Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon whose ministry has cited security reasons, even though military officials reportedly believe there is no threat.

For an Israeli human rights group, it is discrimination.

“It appears the Minister of Defence isn’t content with moving Palestinians to the back of the bus; he wants to remove them from the bus entirely. It’s time to stop hiding behind these technical arrangements, like this pilot plan, and simply admit that this is thinly-veiled pandering to settler demands for segregated buses,” said Sarit Michaeli from the B’tselem group.

Other Israeli authorities are scrutinising the plan.

The Justice Minister Tzipi Livni has reportedly called it “segregation” which could “escalate to illegal discrimination”.

The Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has demanded an explanation from the defence minister.