Israel's Supreme Court of Justice on Thursday unanimously upheld a petition submitted by Palestinian residents of several West Bank villages and ruled that the state must reconsider an alternative route for the so called "separation barrier" in the area of the northern West Bank settlement of Alfei Menashe.
The panel nevertheless rejected a July 2004 ruling by the International Court of Justice in the Hague and ruled that Israel had - for security reasons - the right in principle to build the barrier in lands occupied in the West Bank during the 1967 War.
According to Haaretz, the petition was submitted by residents of five Palestinian villages in an area known as the "Alfei Menashe enclave." The barrier separates them from the rest of the West Bank and nearby urban areas - Qalqilyah to the north and Habla to the south - where the residents had received most of their services.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) said on Thursday that many Palestinian localities and civilians were affected by the construction of the barrier in different cities of the West Bank.
In a press release issued Thursday, PCBS revealed that 149 Palestinian ocalities were affected by the barrier, including 675,000 Palestinians, of these, 15 localities, including 44,000 Palestinians, became inside the barrier.
PCBS made it clear that until the end of May 2005, eight governorates where affected directly by the barrier: Jenin, Tulkarem, Salfit, Qalqilya, in the north of the West Bank, Jerusalem, Ramallah and Al-Bireh in the center, and Bethlehem and Hebron in the south.