High Court Accepts Petition on Segregated West Bank Road 24Oct09 October 25, 2009

Association for Civil Rights in Israel -  24 October 2009

colonie_negohotOn 22 October, Israel’s High Court of Justice accepted a petition submitted by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), against a military order prohibiting Palestinians’ movement on a central thoroughfare. The petition was submitted on behalf of the residents of 22 villages in the Hebron Hills in the southwestern region of the West Bank.

In its first ruling on segregated roads, the Court stated that impeding the freedom of movement of tens of thousands of Palestinians for the benefit of fewer than 200 Israeli residents of illegal outposts is not proportional, given the massive violation of human rights it constitutes for local Palestinians.

Though ACRI welcomes the ruling as it will potentially improve the lives of tens of thousands of local Palestinians, it emphasizes that it is problematic because of what it did not address: the lack of a categorical interdiction on the system of segregation and discrimination that is becoming more entrenched in the West Bank. The ruling also did not address the legality of such an immoral and extreme practice.

The petition was submitted in 2006 by ACRI Attorney Limor Yehuda on behalf of 22 Palestinian villages in the West Bank, after the area’s main thoroughfare connecting Beit Awa, Dura, and Hebron was closed to Palestinian traffic. For the past eight years, as a result of the prohibition imposed by the IDF and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, it serves fewer than 200 Israelis, residents of the unauthorized outposts Negohot and Mitzpeh Lachish.

Among the petitioners were 29 members of the Jadallah family of Beit Awa who live adjacent to the road in question. Since the prohibition of Palestinian travel on the road was first imposed in 2001, the family has effectively been placed under “house arrest,” especially the older family members. The only alternative access route to their homes is via winding and treacherous mountain roads.

“It’s important to analyze this ruling in its broader context, namely the institutionalization of segregation between Israelis and Palestinians in occupied territory,” said Attorney Yehuda. “Israel has prohibited Palestinians from traveling on other roads in the West Bank and employs segregation there in other domains such as the justice system.

“Today’s ruling is particularly relevant as it may influence future Court decisions on the legality of this separation regime, such as the notorious case of Route 443; ACRI submitted a petition against the segregation of this road and is awaiting a ruling.

“As such, it is alarming that Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish refers to the notion of proportionality in the present ruling and avoids confronting the principle at stake: the legality of Israel’s policy of segregation and discrimination in the West Bank.”

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