High Court Accepts the Petition of EcoPeace Against the Separation Barrier in Battir
Military has 90 Days to Reconsider and Present Alternative
December 13, 2012
Following an unusual turn of events where the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (NPA) responded in favor of an NGO petition to the High Court of Israel and contrary to the opinion of the Israeli Military, the High Court this afternoon ruled in favor of EcoPeace and ordered the military to present an alternative plan within 90 days.
“We are convinced that due to the unique nature of the area under discussion there is a need for the security officials to reconsider, in particular as regards the nature of the barrier and security arrangements of the problematic areas,” (area of the terraces) decided the High Court Justices this afternoon.
In early December 2012, EcoPeace Middle East, a regional environmental NGO made up of Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians, petitioned the High Court of Israel requesting that the court prevent the Israeli military from building the Separation Barrier through the agricultural terraces in the Battir area, on the grounds that the barrier would cause irreversible damage to a natural and cultural heritage site – that the government of Israel was obliged by law to protect.
Battir, a Palestinian Village in the West Bank, is home to a living web of agricultural terraces, some 4,000 years old, that begin in the West Bank and cross over to Israel. The Rhodes Armistice Agreement of 1949 signed then between Israel and Jordan (who at that time controlled the West Bank) gave Battir residents free access to continue to cultivate their fields on both sides of the divide in recognition of the need to keep the integrity and continuity of this special site in place.
EcoPeace petitioned the High Court of Justice naming the Government of Israel, Minister of Defense, the IDF Commander of the West Bank and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority as respondents. Though the Government of Israel, Minister of Defense and the IDF Commander of the West Bank responded to the EcoPeace petition by calling on the court to reject the petition, the 4th respondent – the NPA – called on the court to accept the petition.
Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Director of EcoPeace said “The military had failed to bring a single expert in the field of cultural and natural heritage to support their case, yet they constantly claimed that they were striking the right balance between the needs of security and heritage values. We are delighted with the decision of the court and we trust that this time the military will reconsider security options based on the advice of heritage experts, so that the balance of interests can be drawn that both protect the integrity of the Battir landscape, and find alternative security means to a physical barrier.”
Following the 90 days given to the military to present an alternative proposal, EcoPeace, the Village and the Nature and Parks Authority, are given 15 days to respond.
For more information: Gidon Bromberg, EcoPeace Israeli Director: 052-4532597