Beit Jala (Agenzia Fides) - The Supreme Court of Israel has postponed the verdict on the route of the separation wall. Israeli authorities plan to build a security wall in the Cremisan Valley, on the land of 58 Palestinian families in Beit Jala and two Salesian religious communities.
"The ruin of the Cremisan valley and the expropriation of land can in no way be justified by security reasons. Since the beginning of the dispute, alternative routes have been suggested. We, in the meantime, continue to pray".
The Cremisan valley represents the main "green lung" for the population that lives in the area of Bethlehem. If the project were carried out, even the four hundred children who attend the school of the Salesian Sisters would find themselves spending their childhood years in a sort of open-air prison, surrounded by barriers and checkpoints.
The lawsuit against the construction of the wall in the Cremisan Valley was filed by the Society of St Yves, the Catholic human rights organization connected with the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land. Yesterday’s hearing was also attended by Bishop William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, several priests of the Patriarchate, the mayors of Bethlehem and Beit Jala and the representatives of 13 consulates of foreign countries.
An appeal for "justice in the Cremisan valley, near Bethlehem" was released on Tuesday, January 28 by the Holy Land Coordination, the body of Bishops of the United States, Europe, Canada and South Africa who regularly travel to the Holy Land to give support and encouragement to local Christian communities. "We recognize the right of the State of Israel to security and secure borders", the Bishops wrote in their message, "however, the planned route of the security wall deviates sharply from the Green Line, the internationally-recognized demarcation line separating Israel and the territories captured in the six-day war of 1967''. The Bishops urged their respective governments ''to encourage Israel to follow international law and respect the livelihoods of these families'' and ''expressed deep concern that this planned security wall is more about consolidating the settlement areas and permanently choking off Bethlehem from Jerusalem".
Even the U.S. Bishop Richard E. Pates, Chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, had written to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to urge the government of "Israel to cease and desist in its efforts to unnecessarily confiscate Palestinian lands in the Occupied West Bank ". "As I stood amidst the beauty of this agricultural valley and heard the testimony of the Christian families whose lands, livelihoods, and centuries-old family traditions are threatened, I was simply astounded by the injustice of it all". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 29/01/2014)