Nezah Mashiah, the coordinator of the security fence project in the Defense Ministry, said the high court decision does bring the barrier closer to the Green Line — the border of Israel before Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza in 1967. But he was adamant it will not be on the Green Line.
“This is in not in any way, shape or form a fence on the Green Line,” Mashiah said in an Israeli Radio interview.
The new route was made necessary by the High Court of Justice’s ruling last month ordering the government to make changes in the security fence that take into account Palestinian humanitarian needs.
The court ordered about 20 miles rerouted in a ruling considered a precedent for the entire barrier, which is planned to stretch more than 400 miles.
Security concerns must be balanced against humanitarian needs, the judges ruled, although they did not dictate a revised path.
Israel has said the barrier is a shield against suicide bombers and has contributed to a sharp decline in attacks. But Palestinians in the West Bank and elsewhere say the barrier separates them from farmland, schools and jobs.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the government would comply with the ruling, and a blue-ribbon government panel met to review the revised route drawn up by the Defense Ministry and slated for Sharon’s approval in a matter of days.
Palestinians object to the barrier being anywhere inside the West Bank, on land Israel captured in the 1967 six-day war.
Amos Yaron, the director general of the Defense Ministry, told army radio that the fence would be completed as planned by the end of 2005, despite the recent court ruling.
Based on calculations by the United Nations of the previously announced route, about 15 percent of the West Bank would be on the western, or Israeli, side. It is unclear how much that will change under the new route.