The army says it spent over $40 million to build a separate road for Palestinians to reach the outskirts of Ramallah. But the road was recently unnavigable for about two months because winter weather caused a bridge to collapse. The army says the bridge has since been repaired.
Human rights activists note that the army originally justified confiscating Palestinian lands for the highway by insisting it would primarily serve the welfare of the Arab population.
Rights groups and the Palestinian villagers bemoan the fact that access to the highway for Palestinians will be severely limited – one entrance and two exits in each direction along the nine-mile stretch of West Bank road that connects Jerusalem's northern tip to the Israeli suburb of Modiin and eventually Tel Aviv.
Melanie Takefman, a spokeswoman for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which helped bring the case to the High Court, said the fact that Palestinian villagers will not be able to use 443 to visit Ramallah makes a "farce'' of a ruling originally hailed as a landmark case. The army, she said, is following the letter of the ruling but not the spirit of the ruling against the blanket ban.
In a December concurring opinion, Chief Justice Dorit Beinish wrote that banning Palestinians from the road creates "a sense of inequality and improper motives,'' though she rejected the comparison with apartheid.