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From the field

15 Dec. '08: Israeli High Court voids amended route offered by State for Bil'in barrier

In a rare decision given on December 15, 2008, the Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ) ruled that the second amended route of the separation barrier proposed by the State on the lands of Bil'in is also illegal. Justices Beinish, Rivlin and Prokachya concluded that the proposed route violates the Court ruling from September 2007, and ordered the State to pay the residents of Bil'in legal expenses to the sum of 10,000 NIS.

In its decision, the HCJ ordered the State to plan the new barrier route in Bil'in according to clear and detailed criteria. In addition to criteria detailed in previous HCJ decisions, this time the Court clarified the most important criterion: "the security consideration that will determine the new route will take into account existing buildings [in the settlement] and not plans for future construction. The security distances will be measured from existing buildings and not from planned buildings that have not yet been constructed". This ruling refers to both the Matityahu East and the Ne'ot Ha-Pisga neighborhoods - both in the settlement of Modi'in Illit.

If the decision is implemented, the residents of Bil'in will get back approximately half of their land that lies west of the existing barrier. The decision is expected to have important ramifications on other sections of the separation barrier, because of the court's insistence that security distances must be measured from a settlement's built up area and not from future construction.