Page last updated at 18:35 GMT, Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Israel court rules Palestinians can use highway


Israel's Supreme Court has ordered the military to let Palestinians use a road that runs through the West Bank.

Palestinians were barred from the Jerusalem to Tel Aviv Highway 443 in 2002 when militants shot dead a number of Israelis in their cars.

The case was brought by Palestinians who live in the villages along the 12.5-mile (20-km) West Bank section of the road.

Human rights groups hailed the decision saying it was "a huge victory".

The court said the military did not have the authority to impose the kind of sweeping limitation that "in effect transforms the road into a route designed for 'internal' Israeli traffic alone".

'Huge victory'

The road was built on land appropriated from the villagers who lived along its course.

But villagers are prevented from getting on the highway by concrete barricades and military checkpoints along its length.

The military have five months to implement the ruling and dismantle the barriers.

It is the second time in recent months the court has ordered the military to open roads to Palestinians.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which provided legal representation to the Palestinians, said it was "a huge victory".

But the ruling was condemned by Israeli right-wingers.

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