High Court Rejects Petition to Halt Work on Shoafat Fence

The High Court of Justice rejected on Sunday a request by attorney Danny Zeidman to issue an injunction suspending construction work on the separation fence in the area of Shoafat, Jerusalem. Nevertheless, Zeidman's petition against that section of the fence on behalf of residents of Shoafat, Ras Hamis and the Salaam neighborhood of Anata remains to be decided.

The petition argues that the route of the fence in the area was determined in keeping with extraneous rather than security considerations. Zeidman says in his plea to the court that he was explicitly told by a number of officials that the route was determined in accordance with demographic considerations - namely, in order to remove Palestinians from East Jerusalem.

In January 2004, orders pertaining to the temporary seizing of land for the purpose of building the fence were distributed in the area. Zeidman filed a reservation with the Defense Ministry within five days, and then, following consultations with area residents, he proposed an alternative route that would leave the 30,000 Jerusalem residents in the capital. On May 31, 2005, however, the Appeals Committee alongside the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court rejected the proposal.

Zeidman filed his petition with the High Court late last month, and deliberations on the matter began on July 3. On Sunday, July 10, the day on which the government decided on the route of the fence in the area and the rapid construction of the so-called "Jerusalem envelope," Justices Aharon Barak, Dorit Beinisch and Mishael Cheshin decided not to issue an injunction to suspend the work.

Zeidman's pending petition notes that in response to his proposed alternative route for the fence, he was told by a Defense Ministry official in a telephone call on January 15, 2004, that the proposal would clearly be rejected because "the intention is to get these people out of Jerusalem and associate them with the West Bank."

Zeidman also notes that he met on January 20, 2004, with the head of the Civil Administration, Brigadier General Ilan Paz. "When I raised the issue of the alternative route," the petition says, "Paz openly admitted that the alternative route was irrelevant because the consideration in determining the route is demographic."

Zeidman stressed to Haaretz yesterday that the state had denied in writing that the route was based on non-security considerations, but failed to summon his interlocutors to testify on the matter.

A statement from Paz's office said that the Civil Administration head did not say the things attributed to him by Zeidman. The statement added that Paz did not recall the conversation with Zeidman and did not believe that the route of the fence should be determined according to demographic considerations.