Panel of three justices rules that route of fence properly balances Israeli, Palestinian needs.
By DAN IZENBERG
The government chalked up a victory on Monday when the High Court of Justice rejected two petitions protesting for opposite reasons the route of the separation fence between Maccabim-Reut and the Palestinian village of Beit Sira and lifted the interim injunction blocking construction.
A panel of three justices headed by Supreme Court President Aharon Barak ruled that the route of the fence properly balanced the security needs of the Israeli population and the quality of life and well-being of the Palestinians.
"We are satisfied that in the circumstances the decisions of the military commander fell within the realm of reasonability pertinent to these issues," wrote Barak. "The military commander's decision came after he had weighed all of the relevant information and in accordance with the standards established by this court in the guideline decisions it has handed down in connection with the fence."
One of the petitions was submitted by the village council of Beit Sira and residents of Beit Sira and Shukba, who charged that the military government had confiscated Palestinian-owned land to build the fence and had left some of the village's farmland on the Israeli side of the fence.
Meanwhile, residents of Maccabim-Reut protested that the route was too close to their homes and that terrorists could hit houses on the eastern edge of the villages with light weapons.
The Defense Ministry changed the proposed route after the landmark Beit Surik ruling of July 2004, which established the principle that Israeli security needs must be properly balanced against the well-being of the Palestinian population. In that case, the court ruled that 30 kilometers of a 40-km. segment must be rerouted to ease the hardship caused to the Palestinians. As a result, the section of the fence in the Beit Sira area was moved substantially closer to the Green Line and Maccabim-Reut.
Barak wrote that in establishing the new fence route, "it is obvious that the state made an effort to reduce the harm to the Palestinian residents, while at the same time trying to achieve its security goals."
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