After years of debate and dispute, the Israeli Supreme Court last month ruled to allow the building of a separation barrier through the historic Cremisan Valley.
From Vatican Radio:
Following a series of international appeals, the court in April blocked plans by the Israeli military to extend the wall through the valley which is home to two Salesian monasteries and a convent school. Under the latest court ruling, those religious buildings will remain on the Palestinian side of the wall, accessible from the town of Beit Jala, while land belonging to 58 Palestinian families will be cut off on the Israeli side of the wall. While Israel claims the construction of the barrier is necessary for security reasons, Palestinians say the move is aimed at confiscating fertile land for the expansion of two Israeli settlements.
Last week, the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference issued a statement condemning the move. The statement says in part:
We believe that peace can only be achieved by seeking justice for all. The separation of peoples through walls and barriers can only further divide and anger people and will not contribute to peace. We call on all leaders in the Holy Land to work for peace by seeking justice, and to show mercy and compassion to one another. We express our solidarity and support for the Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Faoud Twal, his auxiliary bishops, and all the suffering peoples of the Holy Land.
Furthermore, we hold all people of the Middle East in our hearts and prayers. We continue to pray for them.
Just this morning, CNEWA received word that the Israeli Defense Force arrived in the valley and, in preparation for the construction, began destroying olive trees belonging to five Palestinian families from Beit Jala.
Meantime, The Society of St. Yves has submitted a new petition to Israel’s High Court, seeking to have the whole planned route of the Separation Wall revealed before construction begins.