JERUSALEM — The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land has issued the following statement in which they condemn the planned route of the Separation Wall in the CremisanValley. The Wall will cut farmers off from their land, divide villages, turn a school into a prison and have grave environmental consequences.
They say: “Seizure orders affect Al Walaja village and 58 Christian families from Beit Jala whose livelihood depends on this land. Furthermore, the two local Salesian communities located there would be negatively affected in their Mission work with the local community.
(The Salesians of Don Bosco started work in Palestine and Israel some 120 years ago in 1891. The Cremisan vineyard run by them with the help of local farmers is a leading world brand of wines from the Middle East).
Separated from the CremisanValley, the local community will lose one of its last big agricultural and recreational areas as well as a crucial water sources for farmers. In fact, Cremisan green area is the main lung through which the population of Bethlehem can breathe.
In addition, the 450 children attending the Salesian Sisters School will have to go to a prison-like school, surrounded by military barriers and check-points.
On July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice found the separation wall illegal under international law. The Assembly of Catholic Bishops has the same stand. We therefore instructed St Yves Society to file a case against the Military Authorities.
The planned construction of the wall will put more pressure on the remaining Christians living in Bethlehem. Without an income and a future for their children, more people will make the decision to leave the Holy Land.
The Catholic Ordinaries deny the existence of any explicit or implicit agreement between the Vatican, the local church and Israeli authorities regarding the construction of this illegal wall and therefore strongly call on the State of Israel to restrain from its plan to separate Cremisan Valley from Bethlehem.
+ Fouad TWAL
Patriarch of Jerusalem for Latins
+ Elias CHACOUR
Greek Catholic Melkite
Archbishop of Akka
Vice president A.C.O.H.L..
+ Giorgio LINGUA
Apostolic Nuncio for Jordan
Msgr Waldemar SOMMERTAG
Chargé d’Affaires of the
Apostolic Delegation in Jerusalem & Palestine
Apostolic Nunciature for Israel & Cyprus
+ Michel SABBAH
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
+ Yaser Al-AYYASH
Greek Cath.Melkite Archbishop
of Petra and Philadelphia, Amman