Road to put drivers' lives in danger?
Photo: AFP
Palestinians 'may lose hours because of roadblocks'
Photo: Rotem Malanki

Highway 443 opens to Palestinians

After decade-long closure, IDF to open road to Palestinian traffic in line with High Court ruling

The IDF on completed its preparations ahead of the reopening of a part of Highway 443 to Palestinian traffic for the first time since 2000.


The road is expected to be open to the Palestinians Friday, in line with a High Court of Justice ruling six months ago.


Palestinian vehicles will now be able to enter and exit the road in the vicinity of several villages. However, the villagers are unimpressed by the move, claiming that they will continue to use an alternate road – they say that IDF roadblocks set up at the entrance and exit to villages will greatly slow down traffic on Highway 443.


"This will make it more difficult for us, and people may lose hours because of the roadblocks," head of the Safa village local council, Muhammad Karaja, told Ynet. "The road, which required the confiscation of thousands of dunams of Palestinian land in the late 80s, will continue to mainly serve the Israeli drivers," he added.


Dan Yakir, legal counsel for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, said, "With the restrictions and the obstructions, the new change is purely symbolic."


However, settlers in the area are not taking any chances, and have requested the opening of the road be postponed by one month, until the petition they filed to the High Court of Justice in the matter is discussed.

Route 443, 'Will continue to serve mainly Israeli drivers'. (Photo: AFP)


"Three weeks ago gunshots were fired at an IDF post, we witnessed stoning two days ago, and we fear a return to the terror attacks of the year 2000," said Yossi Avrahami, head of the Giv'at Ze'ev local council . He claims that if the decision to open the road remains unchanged, drivers' lives will be put in real danger, and the State should be held responsible.


Right fears further Palestinians petition

Rightists who live in the area have expressed concerns that the Palestinians, backed by leftist organization, will now demand the High Court of Justice allow them to use the nearby roads 436 and 45, which enter the heart of Giv'at Ze'ev and the surrounding area.


"The section of road that was opened to them is not useful at all," one rightist explained, "They have a short section that ends up in roadblocks, meaning they have not achieved a thing. This will be their next argument, and the State will likely demonstrate weakness as it did in the case, and will allow them to drive anywhere without considering the dangers."


Military sources noted that the defense establishment has invested some NIS 30 million (roughly $7.8 million) in the security preparations required to implement the High Court ruling.


All Palestinians using the road will have to undergo security checks to ensure that they are not involved in terror activity or arms smuggling.


The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said, "The IDF will continue to protect the security of the citizens of the State of Israel while taking into consideration the life fabric, while upholding the law and honoring the Supreme Court ruling."


The military stressed that the route can be shut down immediately if necessary. According to IDF assessments, despite the opening of the road, many Palestinians will opt not to use it, and will continue to travel via the existing routes around the Ramallah area.


Ali Waked, Shmulik Grossman and Hanan Greenberg contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 05.28.10, 07:47
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