The following press release was issued today from Jerusalem: (old/broken link: https://www.news.va/en/news/cardinal-bertone-speaks-about-holy-see-mission-to)
The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land condemns the planned route of the separation wall in Cremisan valley. The issued seizure orders affect Al Walaja village and 58 Christian families from Beit Jala whose livelihood depends on this land. Furthermore, the two local Salesian congregations located there would be negatively affected in their Mission work towards the local community.
Separated from Cremisan valley, 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. Besides, 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.