High Court rejects fence petitions

Villages of Budrus, Shuqba had disputed fence route before Beit Sourik ruling.

The High Court of Justice on Thursday rejected petitions against the route of the separation fence by residents of the Palestinian villages of Budrus and Shuqba, ruling that the route determined by the government struck the proper balance between Israel's security needs and the well-being of the villagers. The petitions were submitted almost two years ago, one month before the court handed down its landmark decision on petitions submitted by several Palestinian villages and known as the Beit Sourik decision. In that decision, the court established the principles for determining the legality of the route of the separation fence in each of its segments. According to the Beit Sourik principle, the route had to be "proportional," that is, it had to provide a rational answer to the security problem it was meant to resolve, it had to cause the least possible injury and there had to be an acceptable balance between the good it did and the injury it caused to human rights. In the Beit Sourik ruling, the court accepted the government's position that the fence was being built for security rather than political reasons. The route of the fence in the Budrus area took up 45 dunams of land belonging to the village, and cut the villagers off from 42 dunams, which remained on the "Israeli" side. The route of the fence in the Shuqba area took up 121 dunams of land belonging to the village and cut the villagers off from 510 dunams, including 194 dunams of privately owned land on the "Israeli" side of the fence. The court concluded that the injury to the villagers was proportional to the benefits to Israeli security provided by the fence along the route suggested by the army. It also examined the provisions for granting farmers access to their holdings on the Israeli said and found that they were adequate. It therefore rejected the petitions. The separation barrier has already been constructed in the vicinity of both villages. When the petitions were originally filed, the court refused to grant their requests for interim injunctions to suspend the building while the hearings went on. The court did issue an interim injunction later for a short time but lifted it afterwards, enabling the army to complete the barrier.