Palestinians to gain access to Israel's main road

By Jessica Elgot, December 30, 2009
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The Palestinian village of Beit Sira has won access for Palestinians to one of Israel's main roads

The Palestinian village of Beit Sira has won access for Palestinians to one of Israel's main roads

Israel’s main route between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem must be opened to Palestinians, the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled.

Palestinians have been barred from using Highway 443 since 2002 when Palestinian terrorists attacked and shot dead Israeli motorists on the road.

But villagers from the Arab village of Beit Sira in the West Bank section of the road, which runs for 10km, have been prevented from access by concrete barriers, and are stopped at military checkpoints.

Villagers took their case to court in 2007, with the assistance of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

The three judges at the Supreme Court ruled by a majority of two that the army did not have jurisdiction over the use of the road.

It ruled that all the checkpoints and barriers must be dismantled within five months, and said the army must find a new solution to terror attacks on the route.

The decision has upset relatives of those killed in the attacks on the road and the mayor of Modi’in, through which the road passes, has spoken out against the judgement.

Mayor Haim Bibas told Ynet: "This decision is completely detached from reality. Once the road is no longer secure, trouble will find its way back to us. If a terror attack happens the army will take the blame. Why? Why even go there?"

But human rights groups praised the action as a step towards peace. "It's a huge victory," said Melanie Takefman, spokeswoman for ACRI.

    Last updated: 1:50pm, December 31 2009