Friday, June 16, 2006

Court orders Israel to tear down West Bank barrier segment - Yahoo! News

Yahoo! News

Court orders Israel to tear down West Bank barrier segment

Thu Jun 15, 7:37 AM ET

Israel's supreme court has ordered the state to dismantle a section of its controversial West Bank separation barrier following an appeal from two Palestinian villages.

The part of the barrier in question effectively incorporates into Israel the northern Jewish settlement of Tzofim, along with around 100 hectares (250 acres) of land from the Palestinian villages of Azun and Nebi Elias.

In its ruling Thursday, the supreme court criticised the state for not providing all considerations behind the route of that five-kilometre (three-mile) sector of the barrier.

Israeli rights group B'Tselem said the court had "essentially ruled that the state lied" over claims that the route of the 670-kilometre (415-mile) barrier "is based solely on security considerations".

The court gave the state six months to dismantle the section of the barrier and build an alternative route which does not siphon off village land.

Israel justifies its massive barrier of electric fencing, barbed wire and concrete wall that snakes across the West Bank as vital to stop potential attackers from infiltrating the country and Jewish settlements.

The Palestinians condemn the wall as an attempt to grab land and undermine the viability of their promised, future state.

The UN International Court of Justice issued a non-binding ruling in 2004 that parts of the barrier in the West Bank were illegal and should be removed.

The UN humanitarian affairs coordinator's office says three-quarters of the proposed barrier lies in the West Bank while only 145 kilometres (90 miles) follows the "Green Line" separating Israel and the Palestinian territory.

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