Feature: Palestinians complain of traffic violation tickets issued by Israeli police in West Bank

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by Mohammed Abu Alrob, Saud Abu Ramadan

RAMALLAH, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) — The Palestinians have recently complained against high rates of traffic tickets, which the Israeli traffic police imposes on their vehicles while driving on the West Bank’s main roads.

Nidal Nafez, a Palestinian citizen in his mid-20s from the city of Ramallah, got angry after an Israeli traffic police patrol stopped his vehicle on the road that went from Ramallah to the northern West Bank city of Jenin.

He told Xinhua that the Israeli police fined him for traffic violations and that he should pay the traffic violation ticket within the coming three months, adding “the police fined me for no reason.”

“I didn’t violate traffic and the Israeli police traffic fine was unjust because I never drove my car outside the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank,” he clarified.

In the West Bank, “we face a duplicated traffic law; one Israeli traffic law and another PA traffic law,” Nafez said, “the burden imposed on the Palestinian drivers in the West Bank is duplicated.”

Israeli police vehicles are deployed extensively on the main roads linking the main cities of the West Bank. They stop Palestinian vehicles and score traffic tickets against Palestinian drivers in accordance with the Israeli traffic law.

Israeli media said Israeli police released 873 traffic tickets in the West Bank only during last week, adding that these fines included the withdrawal of 14 driving licenses, preventing vehicles from driving on the main roads, fining 117 drivers for using their cellular telephones while driving.

Palestinians believe that Israeli traffic tickets carry a lot of injustice and it is an Israeli attempt to impose its control on the Palestinian territories, especially after the traffic tickets are released in accordance with the Israeli traffic law, and that sometimes the traffic tickets are released without any legal justification.

Husam al-Atrash, member of the General Secretariat of the Palestinian Public Transport Union, told Xinhua that “the Israeli police fines the Palestinians in a punitive manner and not in accordance with the requirements of the law or to regulate the road traffic.”

“If the traffic ticket is not paid within the first three months, it is automatically doubled,” he said, adding “if a driver is caught and has not paid his tickets, his vehicle will be confiscated for a long time and he will be forced to pay large sums.”

He said such measures “make the matter more than a disciplinary punishment but rather inhuman punishment and injustice.”

According to the Oslo agreement between Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel, which was signed in 1993, the Israeli police were transferring the value of these traffic tickets and fines to the Palestinian police in exchange for part of it being transferred to the Israeli side.

However, Zneid Abu Zneid, director of the Traffic in the Palestinian Police in the West Bank, told Xinhua that “since 2000, the Israeli police have stopped transferring the value of these traffic tickets to the Palestinian police, and now they are doing it unilaterally.”

The Palestinians estimate that the money Israel collects annually from traffic fines and tickets released to Palestinian drivers reach 75 million Israeli shekels (21.5 million U.S. dollars).

They claimed that this money usually goes for infrastructure projects and for building up settlements, bypass roads, tunnels and bridges at the expense of the Palestinians.

Yousef Harb, the Palestinian official in the PA Ministry of Interior, accused the Israeli police of trying “to create a state of chaos and embarrass the PA through an escalation that aims at undermining its powers in the areas that the PA controls.”

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