|Written by Tamara Symonds|
Cautious Optimism in Beit Safafa
Beit Safafa (Wikimedia Commons)
Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that the government must offer solutions to the issues surrounding a proposed six-lane highway that would bisect the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Safafa. In their petition to the court, supported by NIF grantees Ir Amim and Bimkom, neighborhood residents claimed that the partially constructed road would divide their neighborhood, make travelling within the village difficult, and run close to their homes. The petition also said that the highway (which aims to connect the settlements of Gush Etzion and Gilo to Jerusalem's Begin Highway) was planned without the residents' approval and right to seek compensation.
Muhammad Gubara, the residents' attorney, said: "We say today, with all due respect and humility, that deception was used…Shouldn't such a huge project that destroys an entire neighborhood at least allow the residents to object and have their voice heard?"
The court has not ordered the government to stop construction of the highway, but has warned that permits could be revoked if a fair settlement is not reached. "Submit the document without requesting an extension," Asher Grunis, the President of the Supreme Court, said. "If it is not submitted, there are alternatives. You know what they are." He also ruled that the residents should be given 30 days to respond to the government's proposal.
Over the last year, the residents have conducted an impressive public campaign against the road, attracting widespread coverage both in Israel and abroad.