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Highway 443

December 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Route 443

[Ariel Jerozolimski, Jerusalem Post]

I’m on unfamiliar ground in this post, given my limited familiarity with the background, but I was heartened when I read Ethan Bronner’s report in the NYT this morning on the Israeli Supreme Court’s ruling today that Highway 443, “a major access highway to Jerusalem running through the occupied West Bank[,] could no longer be closed to most Palestinian traffic. In a 2-to-1 decision, the court said the military overstepped its authority when it closed the road to non-Israeli cars in 2002, at the height of the second Palestinian uprising. The justices gave the military five months to come up with another means of ensuring the security of Israelis that permitted broad Palestinian use of the road.”

It turns out that the road was built on land taken from Palestinian villages three decades ago. At the time, “the villages objected, saying they had no interest in a new road. But the military contended that the villages would be the main beneficiaries of the highway, and the court yielded to that argument, saying occupied land could be developed for the benefit of those living there, not for the occupiers.” Yet, since 2002, the presumed beneficiaries were barred from using the road.

The Jerusalem Post article on the decision quotes Justice Uzi Fogleman, who explains, “I was not convinced that the sweeping denial of the right of protected persons [i.e., Palestinians living in the West Bank under belligerent occupation] to use the highway, under the particular circumstances in this case, and especially given that the highway is primarily used for ‘internal’ Israeli use, properly balances the harm to human rights and security needs. The additional security achieved by the total prohibition is outweighed by the total denial of the right of protected persons to travel on the highway, which was [originally] planned for their needs, and paved in part on land expropriated from them.”

The case was argued on behalf of the Palestinian villages by The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, “Israel’s oldest and largest human rights organization and the only one that deals with the entire spectrum of human rights and civil liberties issues in Israel and the Occupied Territories.”

If you’re looking to make additional end-of-year contributions to worthy organizations, you might consider ACRI, to whom one can give directly or through the New Israel Fund. We did exactly that this afternoon.

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Categories: Israel