Israel has again made fundamental changes in its legal justification for the West Bank separation wall, acknowledging that ‘security’ wasn’t the only consideration in determining  its route and dropping its previous contention that the project is only a temporary expedient.

Responding to a petition to the Israeli High Court by the residents of the Palestinian village Azun, in the northern West Bank near Qalqilia, the state asked the court to leave the wall in its current location because it would be very expensive to move – even though the court has already ruled that the wall’s route in the Azun area is inappropriate.


As it did in another case last month, the state admitted that other considerations besides ‘security’ influenced the route it chose for the wall. The previous case, however, involved only the
Jerusalem area.


Until recently, the state had claimed that security concerns were the sole motivation for erecting the wall.


The acknowledgment that non-security factors influenced the project has potential legal significance, because the High Court last year declared, in its first major ruling on the wall, that  the state has no authority to build a fence for ‘political’ considerations, such as appending land to Israel.


In most of the West Bank border areas, the wall departs from the Green Line and moves inside the West Bank, appending Palestinian agricultural lands and water resources, as well as illegal Israeli settlements, to Israel


In the region north of Qalqilia, the route moves inside the West Bank to encompass the settlement of Tzofin as well as much farm land owned by Palestinians living in Azun and the neighboring village of Jayyous. Just to the south of Qalqilia, the wall again cuts deeply into Palestinian territory, surrounding the settlement of Alfei Menashe. Both of the resulting ‘enclaves’ into the West Bank are rich in underground water.


In addition to changing the state’s justification for construction of the wall, the latest legal filings also undermine the state’s previous insistence that the wall is only a short-term solution that could be modified or dismantled in the future.