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Israeli Supreme Court rules against separation wall in Battir

Jan. 4, 2015 4:28 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 5, 2015 6:04 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled against the construction of a section of the separation wall in the West Bank village of Battir west of Bethlehem, a local official said Sunday.

Akram Badir, head of Battir's local council, told Ma'an that the Supreme Court "signed a final decision rejecting a request by the Israeli army to build a section of the annexation wall in the village."

"To make any changes to the decision, the Israeli occupation will have to start new procedures from scratch that will take several years," Badir said.

"This triumph in Battir is a victory for Palestine as whole," he added.

He said Battir locals had worked tirelessly to protect its landscape, which was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage in Danger site in 2014.

Battir is famous for its ancient terraces and Roman-era irrigation system which is still used by villagers for their crops.

But the village came under threat from Israeli plans to erect part of the West Bank separation barrier there, which experts say would have irretrievably damaged the water system.

Palestine won membership in UNESCO in October 2011 and quickly moved to submit a number of sites for recognition, including an emergency application for Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity which was approved in June the following year, despite Israeli objections.

In 2004, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion calling on Israel to stop building the wall and dismantle or re-route sections that had been constructed.

Israel says the wall is necessary for its security but Palestinians say it is a land grab, noting that it is not built on the Green Line and in places runs deep inside the West Bank.

AFP contributed to this report.
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