The Israeli Supreme Court has rejected two challenges to the route of the West Bank annexation Wall in and around the occupied east Jerusalem, allowing construction to proceed as planned in spite the fact the the Wall would be built on private land and separate them from their "center of life" in Jerusalem.
In one of the cases, the barrier would be built on a cemetery still in use by one of the villages, according to court documents.
Last week, the Supreme Court ordered Israel to reroute a five-km section of the barrier near the Palestinian town of Qalqilia because of hardships it imposes on Palestinians.
The ruling of the court came in favor of the Israeli prosecution that claimed that “security needs outweighed humanitarian concerns”. The government also claimed that the residents could still enter the city through passages near their neighborhoods.
The cases were filed separately by residents of Al Sheikh and Anata, a town on the northern outskirts of Jerusalem.
Daniela Yanai, a lawyer at the Israeli advocacy group that deals with Jerusalem issues, said the decisions reflect Israel’s goal of strengthening its hold on occupied east Jerusalem, and to push the Palestinian residents in Jerusalem toward the West Bank.
"On the one hand you have Israel expanding its land, but on the other hand pushing Jerusalem residents away toward the West Bank," she said.
The Wall route in Jerusalem fulfills the Israeli desire to keep Jerusalem as its united capital disregarding the fact that the east of Jerusalem was occupied along with the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 war.
The Israeli Ministry of Defense reported that about half of the 760-km Annexation Wall along and deep in the occupied West Bank has been already constructed, and that it expects to complete work in 2008, depending on the results of ongoing court challenges.
Israel considers the final route of the Wall as the basis of its border with the occupied West Bank, this includes the settlement blocs Israel illegally constructed there. Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, reiterated this demand and said earlier this year that the Annexation Wall would be the basis for Israel’s border with the West Bank.
Olmert also said he will impose a border in which Israel would keep about 10% of the West Bank if peace talks fail. Yet, the route of the Wall and the conterminously expanding settlements in the West Bank would create a different reality that allows Israel to annex more lands.
Meanwhile, the Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz has decided to review the route of the annexation Wall in Jerusalem to make sure that the number of Palestinians living in the western side – currently some 200,000 – is reduced as much as as possible.
Peretz directed the ministry’s director general, Kobi Toren, and its legal counsel, Zvia Gross, to determine as soon as possible whether there are other similar cases in other parts of the fence’s route, Israeli online daily Haaretz reported.
The Wall east of the settlement of Tzofin settlement, in which the route annexed lands for the purpose of expanding the settlement, is such a case. Peretz hopes to spare the Defense Ministry further embarrassment following last Thursday’s High Court of Justice ruling in favor of a petition against the fence route near Tzofin, Haaretz added.
Investigations conducted by human rights organizations such as HaMoked Center for the Defense of the Individual, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied territories, B’Tselem, the Council for Peace and Security and Bimkom Planners for Planning Rights revealed more than 10 other cases in which the route accommodates settlement expansion, even at the expense of the Wall’s efficacy.
These include the Wall route east of the Neveh Ya’akov settlement in northeast Jerusalem, which matches the boundary of the master plan for the settlement of Geva; the route north of Gush Etzion, designed to enable the expansion of Kedar; and the route around Modi’in Ilit, which matches the master plan for expanding that settlement, in part at the expense of lands belonging to the Palestinian village of Bil’in, near Ramallah.
Thursday June 15, the Israeli High Court of Justice instructed Israel to dismantle the eastern portion of the annexation Wall that surrounds the Zufin settlement.
In a petition filed by HaMoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual, High Court President Aharon Barak ruled that an earlier petition on the issue was rejected after "the complete picture was not presented to the court" and "the Court rejected the petition on the basis of information, only part of which was well-founded.", Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B’Tselem) reported.
B’Tselem added that, underlying these statements is the fact that the Israeli lied when it claimed that the Wall’s route was based solely on security considerations. This ruling requires a re-examination of all those petitions that were rejected based on the same sorts of claims.
B’Tselem and Bimkom have documented 11 additional areas where the route was set in order to expand settlements, even at the expense of security considerations.