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JANUARY 3, 2010 – Former National Security Council head Uzi Dayan told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that he had advised former prime minister Ariel Sharon to build the security barrier north of Route 443 to guarantee that there would be a second major highway leading to the capital. Earlier, Dayan warned the Supreme Court that the security arrangements the army had introduced to grant access to the highway to Palestinians living in villages along the road would not protect Israeli motorists driving on it.
He also argued that the army’s plan did not grant Palestinians sufficient freedom of movement.
Furthermore, he said, granting Palestinians access to the highway would frighten off Israeli drivers who would stop using it and drive to Jerusalem via Route 1. Jerusalem’s status as capital of the country would be harmed if only one major road led to it, he contended.
Dayan came to the High Court to testify as a military expert in a petition filed by attorney Nitzana Darshan-Leitner, head of the Shurat Hadin organization. Darshan-Leitner is representing more than 1,000 residents of Modi’in, Hashmona’im, Beit Horon, Givat Ze’ev and Jerusalem who have called on the state to reject the security arrangements proposed by the army because they do not adequately protect Israeli lives.
“The High Court asked the army for appropriate security arrangements,” Darshan-Leitner told the court. “The army prepared arrangements that endanger the lives of those who use the road. They do not provide a perfect solution.”
“There is no such thing as a perfect solution anywhere, not in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, either,” Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch and Justice Uzi Fogelman replied.
Meanwhile, Justice Miriam Naor accused Darshan-Leitner of aiming to revoke the High Court ruling of December 29, 2009, which rejected the ban on Palestinian traffic on the section of Route 443 located in the West Bank. The army had imposed the ban during the second intifada after six Israelis were killed.
“There is an obligation to obey the court’s order,” Naor told Darshan-Leitner. “One doesn’t have to be a general or a security expert to know that” there will be dangers on the road.
Naor was referring to the fact that the petitioner had included an expert opinion signed by four former generals, including Dayan, former OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh, and former National Security Council head Giora Eiland.
“When the commanding officer [who prepared the security arrangements] says the solution he has provided is reasonable, we are shocked,” said Darshan-Leitner. “The term ‘reasonable’ is not enough when we are talking about human lives.”
Beinisch replied that the question of Route 443 involved a balancing of many considerations and constraints. For one thing, she said, the section of the highway under discussion was in the West Bank, not Israel. Furthermore, when the state expropriated Palestinian land to rebuild the highway in its present location, it promised that Palestinians as well as Israelis would be able to use it.
Beinisch added that the court would not interfere with the security expertise of the military commander who had proposed these arrangements.
Seeing that she could not convince the justices, Darshan-Leitner turned personal and emotional.
“We live in Hashmona’im, and I have a son who travels to yeshiva in Jerusalem along Route 443 every day,” she said. “I will not send him on this road when his life is in danger.”
And then, pointing to the benches behind her, which were filled with petitioners, she added that neither would they.
“Why should we wait for the next terrorist attack?” she asked.
The court will hand down its decision at a later date.