Seperation barrier Jerusalem.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The High Court of Justice on Sunday issued a show cause order instructing the
state to justify its position that a land seizure order, issued in 2006 to build
a section of the security barrier, was still valid even though the segment had
not yet been built. The state was also asked to explain why the route of the
barrier should not be changed.
The show cause order came in response to a
petition filed by the Palestinian village council of Wallaja, which is located
in southwest Jerusalem on the border with the West Bank.
represented by attorney Giath Nassir, argued that more than three years had
passed since the land seizure order was issued, and therefore the order had
expired. As a result, the state allegedly had no legal basis to build the
The petitioners charged that the barrier would hem them in on
three sides, leaving them access only to the West Bank.
According to the
Jerusalem municipal borders, Wallaja is located inside the city’s
Nassir also represented a Wallaja resident, Jamal Bargouth,
who charged that the barrier would cut across his family’s graveyard, leaving
part of it on the “Israeli” side and the rest on the West Bank side.
attorney told the panel of three justices – Supreme Court President Dorit
Beinisch, Hanan Meltzer and Uzi Fogelman – that the army had determined the
barrier’s route around Wallaja in 2002, before the landmark High Court decision
saying the entire route had to take into consideration the difficulties it would
cause Palestinians, and that security and human rights had to be properly
He also charged that the state had ignored the court
“The route is a scandal,” he told the court. “It cannot stand.”
The planned barrier would be so close to houses that it would leave villagers
“no room to breathe.”
Nassir also complained that the proposed route
would place the built-up area of the village on the West Bank-side, and
agricultural land on the other side. In addition, he argued that
along the planned route would cause severe environmental damage to the
terraces that both the Nature and Parks Authority and UNESCO had
The state asked the court to reject the Wallaja
petitions on grounds of late submission, since the land seizure order
issued four years earlier and the route had been approved. In fact, all
land seizure orders for the barrier surrounding Wallaja had already
judicial examination and been approved, the state’s representative, Hani
told the court.
Ofek explained that as soon as the disputed land seizure
order had been issued in 2006, authorities began working on the barrier
It was only in 2008 that work stopped because government funding had
transferred to the North to repair damage caused by the Second Lebanon
She argued that the only legitimate argument offered by the
petitioners had been whether the state acted properly when it renewed
seizure order retroactively in order to overcome the three-year limit on
original order’s validity.
Ofek said the villagers filed their petitions
only after they saw that the state was resuming construction in early
But the petitioners argued that they believed the land seizure
order had expired, and saw no reason to take legal action until they
saw the bulldozers returning.