Road near Jerusalem puts wall between Israelis, Palestinians

The new road is believed to be linked to Israeli settlement plans in highly contested E-1 area

The new road is believed to be linked to Israeli settlement plans in highly contested E-1 area

Segregated roads are common in the West bank, but until now, none are divided along their entire length by a wall.

Israel has opened a highway dubbed "Apartheid Road" in Jerusalem - a roughly 2-mile stretch that separates Palestinian drivers on one side and Jewish settlers on the other with a 26-foot-high fence, according to a report.

The new 5-kilometer Route 4370, also known as the "Easter Ring Route" is a four lane route: two lanes for Israeli settlers travelling from the West Bank into Jerusalem, and two lanes circumventing around the borders of Jerusalem for Palestinians with West Bank IDs.

Israel's Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said the road would ease heavy traffic for settlers in the area while helping Israel overcome "security challenges".

Many residents of nearby settlements work in Jerusalem.

The long-term goal is to provide settlers with another route to allow them to access Jerusalem more directly, said Aviv Tatarsky of Israeli NGO Ir Amim, which opposes settlement expansion.

Mohammed Abu Zaid, administrative director of the local council for Al-Zaim, a Palestinian village on the other side of the wall, fears that the journey from his village to the city will be lengthened by some eight kilometres (five miles) if the project is completed.

If implemented, the southern West Bank would be completely cut off from the north, making a future contiguous Palestinian state almost impossible.

For Tatarsky, the road is also part of a push to incorporate Israeli settlements near Jerusalem more closely into the city, he said.

In 2002, Israel began building a security barrier separating Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank in an bid to bolster security following the Second Intifada; Palestinians dubbed the undertaking the "apartheid road" and have repeatedly called for it to be taken down. Palestinians must acquire a special permit to enter the city, and to transit through Israel to get to different Palestinian territories.

Infrastructure is a problem in the West Bank, where Palestinians say they have been unable to build adequate infrastructure due to Israeli restrictions.

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