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Israel's Supreme Court Orders Section of West Bank Barrier Moved

04 September 2007

Israel's Supreme Court has ordered the government to move a section of the West Bank separation barrier that has kept some Palestinians from reaching their fields.

The court Tuesday ruled that Israel must change the route of the barrier near the Palestinian village of Bilin.

Palestinian villagers and their supporters have protested the barrier at Bilin for two-and-a-half years, saying it prevents them from reaching their fields and orchards. The demonstrations have frequently turned violent and have resulted in clashes between protesters and Israeli police.

Israel had argued the barrier route was necessary to protect residents of a nearby Jewish settlement Modiin Illit.

In 2002, Israel began building the massive West Bank security barrier, which is made of electric fence, barbed wire and concrete walls.

Israel says it is needed to prevent Palestinian suicide bombers from entering Israel. Palestinians say the barrier, which juts into the West Bank, is an Israeli effort to disguise a land grab.

Separately, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Mideast peace envoy Tony Blair are expected to meet Tuesday in Jerusalem ahead of a U.S.-sponsored peace conference expected in November.

The former British prime minister serves as special envoy to the international quartet on Middle East peace, which consists of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.

Mr. Blair, who is on a regional tour, says he plans to have detailed talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials on economic and security issues.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP.

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