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High Court Rejects 'Security Fence' Challenge

Israel's supreme court rejected a challenge to the route of Israel's security fence by Walajeh villagers saying it 'saves Israeli lives.'
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 8/23/2011, 6:11 PM

Israel's Supreme Court has rejected the village of Walajeh's appeal to reroute a section of the 'separation barrier' straddling the Jerusalem municipal border, saying the petitioners failed to prove the fence would smother the village.

Residents of Walajeh claimed the path of the section under construction would cut them off from their farmlands, cemetery and water source. Israel says the barrier, is crucial to curbing terrorist attacks.

Walajeh, a community of 2,000 on Jerusalem's southwest edge, is situated betwixt and between Jewish communities.

The planned barrier would encircle the village by a fence, according to an Israeli Defense Ministry map.

Residents have demonstrated against the barrier's construction for five years, but Chief Justice Dorit Beinish wrote in her ruling Monday the fence saves Israeli lives because it "blocks terrorists from entering Jerusalem."

Although the court dismissed the request to completely reroute the barrier section, Israel has agreed to adjust its path to keep the natural spring on the village's side of the barrier.

The cemetery and farmlands will remain outside the village fence, but Israel promised to construct an underground passageway so villagers could reach the cemetery without advance military coordination. It also promised to erect access points in the barrier for Walajeh's farmers to work their lands under the army's supervision.

Israel began constructing the barrier in 2002 during a peak in suicide bombings by Arab terrorists on Jewish targets. Since then, the fence's route has been a routine issue in Israeli courts.

The Palestinian Authority claims Israel is using the network of concrete walls and electronic fence unilaterally cement a border between Israel and its enclaves in Judea and Samaria.

The enclosure, once complete, will run for 490 miles (790 kilometers) through Judea, Samaria, and east Jerusalem, defined as 'disputed territories' under international law after Israel captured them from occupying Jordan in 1967.

The fence would put 9.4 percent of Judea and Samaria, including east Jerusalem, on the "Israeli side," and an estimated 85 percent of Israel's 500,000 settlers, according to a UN report.

Israeli security experts, however, say the fence would make a poor defensible border saying Israel must maintain control of the Jordan Valley and ridges of Samaria overlooking the coastal plain if it is serious about its survival and its citizen's security.

As the Palestinian Authority prepares to make its statehood bid at the United Nations in September saying it will unilaterally base its borders on the pre-1967 armistice lines, nationalist politicians in Israel's nationalist camp have called for the Netanyahu government to - at the very least - annex all Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.