A nine-judge High Court panel rejected an appeal issued by residents of a-Ram regarding the construction of the security fence around the north Jerusalem neighborhood.
“The various considerations in this matter justify the construction of the fence along its current route,” the judges said in their ruling.
“Our ruling is based on the assumption that the Israeli residents living in a-Ram will have adequate access to Jerusalem through the fence crossings, particularly through the Qalandiya crossing,” the judges said.
The petition was filed in an effort to block the construction of the fence along Highway 60, at a-Ram’s western border (inside Jerusalem territory).
Initially the court issued an interim order that prevented the fence construction in the area, and the state guaranteed that it would not perform permanent construction there until after a hearing would be held on the appeals. In august 2004 the interim order was annulled, thus freeing the state of its obligation.
During a cabinet meeting on the issue it was revealed that some 55,000 east Jerusalem Palestinians carrying blue (Israeli) identification cards would remain outside the Israeli part of the security fence should construction continue along the current route.
Outgoing High Court Judge Aharon Barak said in the ruling that, “The rights of al-Ram’s residents are not absolute; they can be obstructed if there is justification for it. One must make a distinction between harming ‘protected residents’ by constructing the fence in the West Bank and harm done to Israelis (citizens or permanent residents) due to the construction of the fence in the area and due to the construction of the fence in Israel.”
In the ruling Barak reiterated his stance that protecting Israelis is of the utmost importance, this despite the fact that some of a-Ram’s residents are Arabs holding Israeli identification cards.
Barak ruled: "It would be enough to say that it is a worthy objective if it is done for military needs (that aren't political) that are meant to protect the lives of people living in the region or in Israel. Erecting the fence in the a-Ram area holds up under the prescriptions of this objective.
"It is meant to protect the lives of residents of the State in general, and residents of Jerusalem in particular, from terror activities coming out of West Bank territory. This is a worthy military objective that is meant to maintain security, and, as such, to protect human life, respect, and liberty," Barak asserted.
Judge Miriam Naor was in the minority opinion in regards to the segment of the route discussed in the petition, and established that the southern portion is not proportional.
According to her, "If my opinion were followed, we would accept the petition submitted by the residents of Dahiyat al-Barid, in accordance with the possibility for slight adjustments in the route, for instance, in the region of the Coptic church. Because mine is the minority opinion, there is no space for elaborating on the adjustments."
Judge Naor added: "The fence, in every place it passes, damages the fabric of life. It creates hardship in some way or another on those going to work or returning home. It damages students, family ties, and culture… It obstructs the landscape. It stands as an ongoing and painful reminder that the two nations sitting on the land have still not been able to live in peace. However, the fence is vital to protect those needing protection from terrorist attacks."
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel expressed their disappointment about the High Court ruling that authorized the route of the separation fence in the area of a-Ram, north of Jerusalem.
"The association is shocked and disappointed by the High Court ruling, according to which the jailing of masses of people with a cement wall from nearly all directions doesn't violate human rights," it reported. "The solutions indicated by the High Court, like using the border crossings, is not realistic. This bid proves that they don't prevent the separation of the residents from Jerusalem, the center of their livelihoods and their lives."