The Israeli High Court of Justice Thursday barred temporarily the completion of construction work on the West Bank separation wall section south of Jerusalem, near Har Homa settlement.
The temporary order was issued in response to a petition submitted on Wednesday by all 66 adult residents of Nuaman village, next to the West Bank settlement of Har Homa.
Villagers are asking that the route of the fence be changed, such that they are on the ‘West Bank’ side of the barrier, and not on the ‘Jerusalem’ side as presently planned.
In the past, Har Homa was the site of protests over construction of new Jewish settlement on lands that belonged to Palestinians.
Israeli PM to meet with Legal and Security Officers on Court Ruling on the Wall
The Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will meet Thursday night with Legal and Defense officers to discuss ramifications resulting from the High Court of Justice ruling issued Thursday.
In light of the court ruling, Sharon is expected to order the security establishment to reroute the wall accordingly.
Despite the fact that the court ruling is on a specific section of the wall, and since the court ruling laid principles, the Israeli government might have to consider rerouting other sections of the wall.
Since the wall has already been built in many parts of the relevant stretch, Israel will now have to tear it down and compensate local residents for the damage to their lands.
Nevertheless, the court decision is not against building the wall in the West Bank as a principle.
Israeli sources said that senior government officials expressed satisfaction with the decision as it affirms the stat’s position in principle, that the wall is a security barrier, not a political one. This gives the state the advantage of not committing to the green line n building the wall, and it allowed building it in the West Bank.
Meanwhile Member of Knesset Gilad Ardan, from Likud proposed a resolution to de-legitimize the high court of ruling on the wall and form a committee headed by judges in the central court to discuss petitions against the wall, which will make decisions in a one week span.
Ardan said, his proposal presents the wall as a ‘high priority national project’ that courts in Israeli should not keep ‘obstructing its construction and interfering in its routing’
Ardan said the High Court ruling results from the ‘lack of understanding of the security needs of Israel’
The Israeli Defense Ministry said it would reroute the mentioned part of the wall.
‘The re-planning of these sections will be based on the principles set by the High Court, namely the proper balance between security and humanitarian considerations,’ the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The decision was basically stating that this section of the wall was not built based on security needs only; therefore rerouting the wall would not affect the security measures.
The Israeli High Court of Justice on Wednesday ruled out 30 out of 40 Kilometers stretch of the separation wall around Jerusalem.
This landmark ruling by Chief Justice Aharon Barak and justices Eliahu Mazza and Mishael Cheshin comes in response to a petition filed in the High Court of Justice by the village council of Beit Surik, north west of Jerusalem.
The court’s ruling was an attempt to balance between the military measures Israel is taking by building the wall and the obligation Israel has to provide for the local inhabitance of the area.
‘The route disrupts the delicate balance between the obligation of the military commander to preserve security and his obligation to provide for the needs of the local inhabitants,’ the ruling said.
The court pointed that the current route of the wall forms a violations of both humanitarian and international laws, by creating hardships for the local population and recommended in principle to adjust the route of the wall in that area especially that alternative routes do exist.
‘The route that the military commander established for the security fence… harms the local inhabitants in a severe and acute way while violating their rights under humanitarian and international law,’ the court said.
‘This route has created such hardship for the local population that the state must find an alternative that may give less security but would harm the local population less. These alternative routes do exist’ the court added.
The court, which does not have a mandate to ban the construction of the fence itself, froze construction of the barrier in the disputed area in March, pending a final decision.
Mohammad Dahla, the lawyer for the petitioners said ‘This is a courageous and very important decision. Of course it is precedent-setting,’
‘This decision is more important than the one at The Hague because this one will be followed. It says what we said from the beginning, that the building of the wall as it is being built is illegal and that there is another way to build it that will give security to Israel but won’t violate Palestinian rights,’ he said.
However, an Israeli security official condemned the ruling Wednesday, saying that the verdict would ’cause irreversible damage.’
Uri Avnery, a member of Gush Shalom peace bloc, former Member of Knesset, who was at the court Wednesday, lauded the ruling.
‘The High Court has made a very important decision, putting a stop to the callousness of a blind and obtuse government and military that thinks it can, with complete disregard, send bulldozers to destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians,’ said the former Avnery.
The Israel Defense Forces has said it would set up four gates in this section of the barrier to allow landowners access to their farms but Palestinians in other areas have said the permit process is often too restrictive.
Other gates in different sections of the wall along the West Bank were not opened as the army claims. ‘These gates are used to humiliate us and force us to leave our land’ Said a farmer from Jayyous village near Qalqilia.
This section of the barrier in the northeastern Jerusalem area would disrupt the lives of 45,000 people living in ten villages, cutting them off from their farmland, schools and jobs, Dahla said ahead of the ruling.