High Court: Alter security fence route

Decision on barrier near Modi'in Illit leaves 200 dunams on "Palestinian" side.

The High Court of Justice on Monday rejected the state's proposal for the route of a section of the separation barrier near the West Bank village of Na'alin and ordered it to return to an earlier proposal that caused less damage to the Palestinian villagers. The route of the separation barrier the court ordered the state to implement leaves 200 dunams of land, which an Israeli company claims to own, on the "Palestinian" side of the fence. According to an outline plan for "Ganei Modi'in 3," a sub-neighborhood of Modi'in Illit, which has not yet been approved, the company, Philodendrum12, was supposed to build 280 housing units in that tract. The planning of the separation barrier near Na'alin has a long history. The route of the barrier was originally designed to run substantially north of the Philodendrum enclave, close to the southern houses of the Palestinian village. After several villagers and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) petitioned the court against the original route, the state prepared another route which brought the barrier roughly 400 meters south of Na'alin and 500-600 meters north of Hashmonaim. The Philodendrum land continued to remain on the "Israeli" side of the barrier. After the High Court of Justice handed down its landmark ruling on Beit Sourik, in which it determined that in many places the barrier route struck an improper balance in favor of the security of Israeli settlers over the quality of life of the Palestinian villagers, the defense ministry made large substantial changes in the route of many sections of the fence. In the case of Na'alin, the defense ministry proposed to shift the barrier farther away from Na'alin and closer to Hashmonaim. This time, the Philodendrum tract remained north of the barrier. Later on, however, the state changed its mind without giving an honest explanation of why, and decided to return to the second option. The petitioners eventually learned that the reason for the change was to include the land owned by Philodendrum within the barrier. In her decision, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch wrote, "It is illegal to determine the route of the fence in a certain place if the only reason, or the primary reason, for doing so is because of the existence of an outline plan for the expansion of the settlement."