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Court overturns segregation of highway 443

Dec. 29, 2009 7:31 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 30, 2009 2:36 P.M.)
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Israel’s High Court of Justice decided on Tuesday to allow Palestinians to use a West Bank highway that had previously been designated for exclusive Israeli use.

The ruling, that Palestinians may use highway 443 and the nearby Beituniya road, will not go into effect for several months.

The court’s justices accepted a petition from the village of Beit Sira which was filed in 2007 and backed by 24 other petitioners.

According to Israeli news reports, Justices Dorit Beinisch and Uzi Fogelman ruled that the military must find an alternative solution to alleged security issues related to Palestinian use of the road.

Before the ban, a section of highway 443 was a main artery for Palestinians in the Ramallah area.

The road, which cuts through the West Bank, linking Jerusalem with Tel Aviv, has been closed to Palestinians since 2002 after several cases of shooting along the highway. The ban was enforced with roadblocks, checkpoints, and military patrols.

Melanie Takefman, a spokeswoman for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), which represented the Palestinians in their petition before the court, told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz the decision was “a huge victory.”

In October the court accepted another petition from ACRI, striking down a military order banning Palestinians from a main road in the Hebron area.

According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, more than 300 kilometers of roads were designated off-limits to Palestinians before the two rulings.
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