The High Court of Justice's decision, in a panel headed by Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, to end the ban on Palestinians using Route 443 is one of the most correct and just decisions the court has made in recent years.
Ever since the outbreak of the intifada, more than nine years ago, this road - which runs from the Ben Shemen interchange to the Ofer Base junction - has become a route for Israelis only. The ban even applied to the 10-kilometer portion of the road that passes through the West Bank, including on lands that were expropriated for public use. As a result, residents of nearby villages, including the owners of the land that was expropriated, who seek to reach the West Bank's main cities are forced to use roundabout ways of getting to their destinations.
Over the course of 42 years of occupation, an approach has taken root which holds that the security and even convenience of the settlers take precedence over the property rights and welfare of the Palestinians. In order to ensure the safety of Israelis, dozens of bypass roads were paved in the West Bank and hundreds of roadblocks were put up. The route of the separation fence, which was supposed to separate the West Bank from the territory of the State of Israel, was also adjusted to the settlements' expansion plans. To this end, thousands of dunams of land were expropriated from their owners and farmers were separated from their fields, the source of their livelihood.
As was to be expected, MKs from the right attacked the Supreme Court with the questionable assertion that removing the roadblocks at the entrance of the villages near the road would undermine the security of travelers. These MKs ignore the principle behind the court's ruling and the rules of international law, which enable the military administration to violate property rights only if this is done for the benefit of the local population. The term "local population" does not include those citizens of the occupying country who choose to live in the middle of occupied territory. Democratic and moral countries do not expropriate both the land and the right to make use of it.
The barring of Palestinians from Route 443 was one of the ugliest aspects of a deluxe occupation. Real security cannot be achieved by roadblocks, fences and separate roads, but only by a fair peace accord that will bring an end to the occupation.
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