The Supreme Court told the state yesterday not to expropriate land belonging to the Palestinian village Beit Iksa for the railway line to Jerusalem until all parties are heard.

Last month Haaretz reported that the former head of the Civil Administration signed an expropriation order for 50 dunams of Beit Iksa's land for railway construction work.

This runs contrary to a High Court of Justice ruling from December 2009 on Route 443, stipulating that land belonging to West Bank Palestinians may not be taken over for the benefit of Jews or Israelis alone, but must serve the local residents as well. The High Court instructed the Israel Defense Forces to open Route 443 to Palestinian drivers as well as Israeli ones.

The expropriation of Beit Iksa land is intended to serve passengers from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv while the villagers would not benefit.

Village residents and the owners of the land petitioned the High Court of Justice against the expropriation, arguing that it would destroy 500 olive trees - the petitioners' source of livelihood. In addition, the laying of the railway line would trample on the rights of the residents of Beit Iksa and the neighboring village Beit Sourik.

The petitioners asked the court for an interim order forbidding construction work on the site.

Fogelman gave the state 21 days to respond to the petitioners' request. Until then he forbade the state from carrying out the expropriation, putting off construction for at least a month.