(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The High Court of Justice earlier this week gave the state until October 1 to find a satisfactory solution to the status of the 200 residents of Nueman, a Palestinian village located inside Jerusalem's municipal boundaries.
Although Nueman is included in the area of the West Bank annexed to Jerusalem in 1967, the government has consistently refused to grant the villagers Israeli identity cards and residency status and maintains that they are illegal residents in their own homes.
While barred from entering Israel, the security barrier has made it difficult for the villagers to move freely between their homes and the West Bank, where they receive an array of services including food, schooling and medical care, and where their friends and relatives live.
Two years ago, the villagers petitioned the High Court, demanding that the security fence be moved so that the village will be contiguous to the West Bank or, alternatively, that they be given Israeli identity cards.
In 2005, their lawyer reached a compromise with the state in which they obtained neither demand. Instead, the state promised to build a road linking the village with the West Bank through a gate in the barrier that would be open 24 hours a day. The compromise was given the status of a High Court ruling.
Earlier this year, the villagers returned to the High Court. They argued that the compromise arrangement had failed.
By the end of the hearing, the head of the panel, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, was convinced that the current arrangements were not working out properly. She ordered the state to go back to the drawing board and reconsider whether the villagers should be given Israeli status. Beinisch said if the state could not find a satisfactory solution, all possibilities would be open, including shifting the security barrier so that Nueman would be part of the West Bank.