Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, has approved shifting the route of the Annexation Wall at least five kilometers eastward from the Green Line in the area of Modi'in Ilit settlement. Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported that according to security sources and a brief submitted by the state to the High Court of Justice, the move comes to take in the settlements of Nili and Na'aleh.
The move will lead to the creation of two Palestinian enclaves, inhabited by at least 20,000 residents, while both settlements have 1500 settlers living there.
Haaretz added that Olmert approved the route change in response to pressure from settlers of the two settlements.
The settlers said that the Wall route that was approved in April 2006 leaves the two settlements outside of the Wall.
The new route will lengthen the Wall by about 12 kilometers, which will cost an estimated NIS 120 million, Haaretz added.
Haaretz also reported that if the cabinet approves the decision, it will be the first time part of the wall has been moved eastward after receiving cabinet approval.
The two settlements, Nili and Na’aleh, are considered secular settlements and are located some five kilometers away from the Green Line separating Israel from the occupied West Bank.
Israel was planning to surround the two settlements with a “double fence”; one that extends along the Green Line, and one to their east.
Haaretz also reported that Rani Hernik, chairman of the Na'aleh local council, said that leaders of both settlements carried intensive lobbying in an effort to get the route changed again.
Hernik claims that both settlements are “on state lands” and therefore would not interfere with the lives of the Palestinians. This opinion disregards a basic fact that settlements are built on lands Israel seized from the Palestinians.
Moreover, Israeli Army Colonel, Danny Tirza, who was in charge of the Wall’s route, was the main figure who pushed for the inclusion of Nili, Na’alehm and Hernik settlements on the “Israeli” side of the Wall.
He was subsequently removed from his position because of inaccurate affidavits he submitted to the High Court, Haaretz said.
Hernik stated that the proposal of including the settlements within the Wall was submitted to Olmert’s desk.
Olmert approved, in principle, the change in Wall’s route last November, Israeli security sources said, he also asked the Defense establishment to provide him with a proposal to be presented to the Cabinet.
Last April, human Rights groups filed a petition against the route that was approved by the government, and the Israeli Justice Ministry told the High Court that there is a proposal to change the route of the Wall to include the settlements of Nili, Na’aleh and part of the road that connects Nili-Na’aleh settlements, besides part of the road that links Nili-Na’aleh Junction with Kiryat Sefer.
The proposal will be presented to the Israeli government for approval.
Hernik also stated that there is a plan for a new road linking Modi’in Ilit, Nili and Na’aleh settlements with the settlement of Ofraim.
The road is Jewish-only, while the Palestinians will be using two tunnels under it.
The plan will leave some 17,000 Palestinian residents stuck and isolated in an enclave surrounded by the Wall to the west, the road, and the Nili-Na'aleh fence to the east.
It will also totally isolate another Palestinian village, inhabited by 2000 residents; they will be enclosed by the Wall route on three sides.
Official sources at Olmert’s office said that the office received a proposal to connect defense installations around Nili and Na’aleh settlements to the Wall.
The sources added that Olmert is currently studying the proposals and when he makes a decision, he will present it to the cabinet.