The High Court on Wednesday threw out a petition brought by 40 Arab residents of Palestinian Authority-controlled villages against the construction of a new road to bypass Arab villages in western Shomron. As a result, the new road, which will bypass the villages of Nabi Elias and Azzoun, has a green light for construction, and Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan said on a tour of the area Wednesday that construction would proceed full force.
“This is another loss for the forces of the radical left, who are using the Arab residents of Shomron to carry out their own agenda to harm the State of Israel,” said Ben-Dahan. “We will begin paving the road within two months. We expect this road to draw many more Israelis to the Shomron, and make travel between Kfar Sava and Shechem much safer. This is important news for residents of the area, and all Israelis.”
The Nabi Elias Bypass Road, as the project is known, has been in the planning for decades, and is one of the most litigated roads ever to be built in Israel. It was the subject of lawsuits by both Arab and Jewish groups, among the latter several Israeli towns who did not want the road to pass through their jurisdictions. The latest lawsuit – and the last – discussed claims by some 40 Arabs that land the government is using to build part of the road belongs to them. The court ruled Wednesday that they had not brought sufficient proof of that claim, and that construction could go ahead. If such proof were furnished in the future, they would be eligible for compensation.
The road will serve towns in western Shomron located north of Road 5, the Cross-Shomron Highway. Some 50,000 Jews live in towns in this area, including Kedumim, Karnei Shomron, Maale Shomron and Tzufim. Commenting on the decision, Yossi Dagan, head of the Shomron Regional Council, congratulated the court, saying that “we will not allow the development of Yehudah and Shomron to be halted. Residents of the Shomron also deserve proper infrastructure like all other Israelis.”