The Israeli Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered changes in the route of the West Bank separation wall, saying the present plan is hurting the local Palestinian population.
The court said a new route must be found, even if it provides less security.
The landmark ruling came in response to a petition filed in the High Court of Justice by the village councils of Beit Surik, Bidu, Kattanah, Beit Lakiya and Beit Iksa, all located in Jerusalem area.
In their ruling, the justices disallowed 30 kilometers of the 40-km stretch of wall mentioned in the petition.
"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 High Court said Wednesday.
"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 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 froze construction of the barrier in the disputed area in March, pending a final decision on the case.
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, said Mohammed Dahla, a lawyer for the petitioners, ahead of the ruling.
"This is a courageous and very important decision. Of course it is precedent-setting," Dahla told reporters at the court.
"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. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )