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Jerusalem residents await court decision on highway

June 26, 2013 9:57 A.M. (Updated: June 27, 2013 3:06 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Residents of Beit Safafa in East Jerusalem are awaiting an Israeli court decision expected Wednesday that will decide whether plans to build a highway through their neighborhood will go ahead.

Residents have been protesting for months against the construction of Route 4, which would effectively divide Beit Safafa into two parts.

The six-lane highway is being built to allow settlers to speed down to Israel's coastal plains, unhindered by traffic lights or roundabouts.

Palestinian residents will see no benefits from the infrastructure project, and will have to use underpasses and bridges to reach the other side of Beit Safafa.

"Building the highway is a political decision not a planning issue," an engineer from Beit Safafa, Abdul-Karim Lafi, told Ma'an.

"The real goal behind the highway is to destroy lands of Beit Safafa in order to serve settlers who live near Hebron in the south so they can easily drive to Jerusalem at the expense of our lands."

Over 50 acres of private Palestinian land will be confiscated for the highway and the construction will destroy the territorial contiguity of Beit Safafa, Lafi said.

Israel started constructing the highway in late 2012 and locals have staged regular protests and court petitions against the project.
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