Israel has halted the construction of the wall around the settlement of
Ariel in the northern West Bank, following injunctions issued by the
High Court of Justice, in response to petitions against the route of
the wall.

The petitions were filed by the councils of
Palestinian villages in the area in which the eastern part of the wall
is slated for construction. The wall is planned to enclave all
the Ariel settlement bloc into Israel cutting 25 kilometers deep into
the West Bank.
Although there is no decision to end the work there and change the
route of the wall, yet, this has put the brakes on the confiscation of
land and infrastructure work related to the wall.

A number of petitions have been filed since the Israeli cabinet
approved the route of the wall around Ariel February. In his both
visits to the United States, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
received a green light to go ahead with the plan of annexing the major
settlement blocs into Israel, even though they are built on the West

The Israeli state admits, in a document submitted to the High Court in
response to one of the petitions that constructing the wall in this
area will require the uprooting of hundreds of olive trees on
Palestinian land and admitted that the land confiscated for the wall is
owned by Palestinians.

One of the injunctions prevents the renewal of work that has already
begun around the West Bank city of Salfit and the village of
Iskaka. Ariel settlement is built on land mostly confiscated from
Salfit area and the villages around.

The construction of the wall on this route keeps Israel and the United
States t odds. The American Administration’s stance is seen as

On one hand, President Bush defined as ‘unrealistic’ the notion that
Israeli settlements in the West Bank will not be included in the future
borders of Israel. On the other hand, Washington is opposed to
the idea of the fence surrounding the large settlement blocs.

The High court also permitted the government to resume the wall
construction in two villages of Al-Khas and Nu’man, east of Bethlehem, ending an injunction
made in October 2003 upon which work was halted.

The head of the village council Khader Hamdan Israeli bulldozers backed
with military arrived into the area and started uprooting olive trees
and bulldozing land to construct 1200 meters (one mile) of wall which
will isolate the two villages from most of their resources, including
farmlands and schools.

Hamdan said the army allowed 45 days for the residents to prove they
live in these two villages; otherwise they will be forced to leave
their village.