(photo credit: Defense Ministry 224.88)
The High Court of Justice on Wednesday rejected conflicting petitions against the security barrier proposed by the army to protect the Alfei Menashe settlement, located in Samaria, four kilometers east of the Green Line.
One of the petitions was submitted by residents of five Palestinian villages, all of which were originally trapped in the enclave created by the barrier. The other was filed by the Alfei Menashe local council.
This is the second petition filed by the villages against the Defense Ministry's proposal. On September 15, 2005, the High Court rejected the barrier's original route and ordered part of it dismantled because it caused "disproportionate harm" to the 2,000 people living in the villages - Arab a-Ramadan, Arab Abu Farde, Wadi a-Rasha, Ja'arat a-Dara and Hirbet Ras a-Tira.
The state then submitted three alternative proposals for the rebuilding of the dismantled section of the barrier. Of the three, it opted for one that shifted the barrier so that three of the villages were left outside the enclave, leaving Arab a-Ramadan and Arab Abu-Farde within.
In their petition, the villagers said the two remaining villages, with a combined population of about 400, would not be able to sustain themselves. In fact, their situation would be worse than it would have been after the first barrier was built because they had received some of their services from the three villages from which they would now be cut off.
But the court rejected the argument and declared that the government's proposal struck a proper balance between the security needs of Alfei Menashe and the Palestinian population. Furthermore, according to the proposal, 1,887 dunams, or about 472 acres, of Palestinian land originally included in the enclave would now be on the "West Bank" side of the barrier.
The court also agreed that the route of the barrier should be drawn so as to protect Alfei Menashe's Givat Tal neighborhood currently under construction.
The court rejected the Alfei Menashe petition, which preferred one of the other alternatives originally mentioned by the state. According to this option, the barrier would have been positioned to include on the "Israeli" side land that had been earmarked for future Jewish neighborhoods.
The justices, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, Deputy President Eliezer Rivlin and Ayala Procaccia wrote: "The planning of the separation barrier does not have to base itself on the desire to include on the 'Israeli' side lands that were earmarked for expanding Jewish settlements, particularly when there is no valid zoning plan."