JERUSALEM - The Israeli Supreme Court has rejected a Palestinian village’s appeal to reroute a section of Israel’s West Bank separation barrier straddling the Jerusalem municipal border, saying the petitioners didn’t prove the barrier would smother the village.
Residents of Walajeh village had contended the path of the section under construction would cut them off from their farmlands, cemetery, and water source. Israel says the barrier, which at multiple points dips inside the West Bank, is crucial to keep out Palestinian attackers.
Walajeh, a community of 2,000 on Jerusalem’s southwest edge, is almost entirely surrounded by Jewish settlements.
The planned barrier would completely encircle the village with a fence, cutting it off from most of its open land, according to an Israeli Defense Ministry map.
Locals have demonstrated against the barrier’s construction for five years, in at least one instance lying down in front of bulldozers.
But Chief Justice Dorit Beinish ruled Monday that the barrier saves Israeli lives because it “blocks terrorists from entering Jerusalem.’’
Israel did agree to adjust its path to keep the natural spring on the village’s side of the barrier. The cemetery and farmlands will remain on the other side, but Israel promised to construct an underground passageway so villagers could reach the cemetery. It also promised to erect access points for Walajeh’s farmers to work their lands under the army’s supervision.