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Israel high court rules against segregation of West Bank road

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Israel [official website, in Hebrew] on Thursday ruled against [judgement, PDF, in Hebrew] a military order prohibiting Palestinians from traveling on a central West Bank road. Finding in favor of a petition [press release] submitted by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) [advocacy website], the court held that impeding the rights of several thousand Palestinians barred from the road was not justified by the benefits it gave to less than 200 Israelis who live near the road. Despite the ruling, ACRI lawyer Limor Yehuda [official profile] said the group was still concerned over other travel limitations on West Bank Palestinians:

It's important to analyze this ruling in its broader context, namely the institutionalization of segregation between Israelis and Palestinians in occupied territory. Israel has prohibited Palestinians from traveling on other roads in the West Bank and employs segregation there in other domains such as the justice system... As such, it is alarming that Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish refers to the notion of proportionality in the present ruling and avoids confronting the principle at stake: the legality of Israel's policy of segregation and discrimination in the West Bank.

The road at issue is one of several disputed roads that run between Israel and the West Bank [BBC backgrounder]. ACRI's 2007 petition for the desegregation of another such road [press release], Route 443, led to an interim decision allowing segregation until May 2010.

The Israeli Supreme Court has recently dealt with other issues concerning travel and Palestinian civil rights. Last year the court ruled [JURIST report] that the government must change the proposed route for its West Bank security barrier [official website; JURIST news archive], finding that the current plan encroaches too much on Palestinian territory. The court found the government in contempt [Jerusalem Post report] for failing to follow its previous instructions [JURIST report] to infringe on as little Palestinian land as possible. The barrier has been denounced by Palestinians as a land grab that has broken up communities and families, but Israeli officials insist it is necessary to prevent terrorist attacks. In 2004, the International Court of Justice [official website] issued a non-binding advisory opinion [text; JURIST report] that parts of the wall should be torn down.

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