HCJ to finally hear Bil'in petition

The culmination of a yearlong struggle against fence could occur this morning

bilin trailer 298.88 (photo credit: Channel 1)
bilin trailer 298.88
(photo credit: Channel 1)
The culmination of a yearlong struggle by residents of Bil'in against the route of the security barrier could occur Wednesday morning. The High Court of Justice is due, at that time, to hear a petition from leaders of the Palestinian village, represented by attorney Michael Sfard. The petition seeks to shift the route of the barrier and keep hundreds of dunams of village-owned land on the Palestinian side. "If the court rules in accordance with the law, the army will have to move the fence," 31-year-old Muhammad el-Khatib, a local leader of the Committee against the Separation Barrier, told The Jerusalem Post. "If it acts according to political calculations in favor of the occupation, it will rule against us." According to Khatib, Bil'in will be cut off by the barrier from 2,300 dunams of land that it owns. In the petition Sfard argued that the army did not design the barrier route near Bil'in for security purposes, but to expand the neighboring settlement of Modi'in Illit. A new Jewish neighborhood, called Matityahu East, is already under construction on the land, which Bil'in claims to own. It is designed to hold more than 3,000 families. The state maintains that the land for the new neighborhood belongs to it. Meanwhile, the Modi'in Illit local authority has prepared a master plan calling for the addition of another 500-600 dunams of land to Matityahu East. No one disputes the fact that this land is privately owned by Bil'in villagers. The villagers, supported by Israelis and foreign nationals, have protested every Friday for the last year against the fence. According to Khatib, only about half a kilometer of the three-kilometer section of the barrier in the Bil'in area remains to be built. However, the High Court has ordered the state once before to tear down a section of built barrier around Alphei Menashe and rebuild it where it would not cause so much harm to Palestinians who live in the area.