Israel’s Supreme Court has ordered the military to allow Palestinians to travel on the part of a major highway that runs through the West Bank, handing Palestinians their biggest victory yet against Israel’s practice of reserving some roads for Jews.
The West Bank section of Route 443 linking Jerusalem and Tel Aviv was closed in 2002 to Palestinians, after militants shot at Israeli vehicles on the highway and killed several motorists.
About half of the 32-km highway runs through the West Bank. Palestinians living in villages along the route petitioned to have it reopened for them in 2007, as the Palestinian uprising against Israel wound down.
The court said in a summary of its ruling that the military does not have the authority to impose a permanent and sweeping limitation on Palestinian travel along the West Bank section of the road because that “in effect transforms the road into a route designed for “internal” Israeli traffic alone.”
It also said the closure of the road “does not benefit the local population, from whom lands were appropriated to build it.” The judges ruled that security considerations cannot take precedence.