High Court Rules: “Israeli-Only” Route to be Open to Palestinians

ACRI welcomes decision on its petition as landmark ruling, supportive of democratic principles

In a precedent-setting ruling, Israel’s High Court of Justice on Tuesday (December 29) accepted a petition against the military order forbidding Palestinian movement on Route 443, which connects Tel Aviv and Jerusalem via the West Bank. The petition was submitted in 2007 by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and residents of six Palestinian villages located along the route.

Attorney Limor Yehuda from ACRI said in response to the ruling: “The High Court of Justice acknowledged today the illegality of the separation system manifested by Route 443. We urge the IDF to implement the ruling as soon as possible, enabling freedom of movement for Palestinians – a right which has been severely infringed on for nearly a decade.

“The judges ruled today that the army was operating outside the boundaries of its authority by prohibiting Palestinians from traveling on 443. We are hopeful that the High Court’s decision will put an end to West Bank separation roads and to the shameful decision to ban Palestinians from using a West Bank road that was paved on their lands and for their own use.”

Background: In the 1980s, parts of Route 443 were built on private and public lands expropriated from Palestinians by the Israeli Military Commander. In response to a petition submitted at the time by local residents against the expropriation, the High Court rejected their plea and accepted the State’s claim, according to which the road was intended primarily for the benefit of the local Palestinian population – the same population which for the past 9 years has been prohibited from using the road.

Route 443 quickly became a central thoroughfare for Israelis taking a shortcut, who use it as an alternative to Route 1 connecting the Tel Aviv area with Jerusalem. It also served as a main thoroughfare for some 160,000 local Palestinian residents.

After the outbreak of the second Intifada in 2000 and following attacks aimed at Israeli civilians traveling on 443, the IDF started placing limitations on Palestinians using the road. In 2002 the road was completely closed off to Palestinian travel, and various roadblocks were set up to disconnect villages located along the road.

To maintain 443 as an Israeli-only road, the IDF also began expropriating additional lands to pave parallel roads for Palestinians, connecting villages in the Ramallah area to the rest of the West Bank.

In an earlier hearing in March 2008, the High Court issued an interim decision which effectively bestowed a stamp of approval on the separation of roads according to nationality – one set of roads for Palestinians and one for Israelis – representing a watershed moment in the legal history of the Occupation of the West Bank.

Background Information (English) on Route 443

The High Court’s Synopsis of the Ruling (English)

High Court ruling, December 29, 2009 (Hebrew)

Internet Campaign and Game: 443, How Democratic are We?

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Categories: Freedom of Movement, Impact of Settlements, International Humanitarian Law, The Occupied Territories, The Right to Property

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