Daily Israel Report

Time Running Out: 443 to Open to Arab Traffic This Month

As IDF prepares to fulfill Supreme Court ruling ordering the Jerusalem-Modiin highway opened to Arab traffic, an MK says: It could cost lives!
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 5/13/2010, 4:05 PM / Last Update: 5/13/2010, 4:00 PM

Flash 90

As the IDF prepares to fulfill a Supreme Court ruling ordering the opening of the Jerusalem-Modiin highway to Arab traffic, Knesset Member Yariv Levine becomes the latest to warn of the dangers, saying: “Don’t do it, it could cost lives!"

The Supreme Court ruled several months ago that the closure of the highway to Arab traffic because of terrorism concerns is unjust, and that the IDF must implement measures to enable the opening of the main artery to both Jews and Arabs. The change is scheduled for the end of this month.

At least four Israelis have been murdered in terrorist attacks along that road: Eliyahu Cohen in Dec. 2000, husband-and-wife Yaniv and Sharon Bar-Shalom, and Sharon’s brother Doron Sviri, in August 2001. Just two months ago, a roadside terrorist shooting was perpetrated against an IDF vehicle; no one was hurt.

MK Levine (Likud), Chairman of the Knesset House Committee, says that the powers that be should make a last-minute about-face and keep the road safe for Jewish traffic.

The IDF has announced that there will be three entry points for Arabs along the route, near the villages of Biet Sira and Biet Ur Al-Fuqa, and near the Ofer army base, just north of Givat Ze’ev. The entering Arab vehicles will undergo security checks at the first two locations, and all cars will be checked near Ofer.

Life and Death
“Opening the road to Arabs who live both nearby and elsewhere is a genuine security risk,” Levine told Arutz-7, “otherwise it never would have been closed in the first place. If it were possible to institute such safety measures, the army would have done so!... The army should tell the courts that it cannot accept responsibility for this situation; it’s a matter of life and death, and the writing is on the wall!”

Traffic Problems, Too
From a traffic point of view, Levine says that the extra security checks and the fear of sharing a highway with terrorists are likely to persuade drivers to use the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway instead – thus increasing the already heavy traffic on that major artery.

Politically, Levine feels that the Supreme Court is exercising a double standard: “Why is it that in the Talmonim bloc of Jewish communities [in southwestern Shomron], the Jewish right to use certain roads is ignored, while here, even security concerns are shunted aside in favor of an Arab demand to use a road?” Residents of Talmon are not allowed on the shorter route to Jerusalem that goes near Arab villages.

“It appears that the judges have shown preference to those who wish to harm us… There is a clear non-Zionist agenda at work here, one that denies our rights to this land.”

Levine's Bill
MK Levine has proposed a Knesset bill, which he says already enjoys a majority, to remove the Supreme Court from jurisdiction over road openings and closings. “Instead, a subcommittee of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee will make these decisions,” Levine says.