- The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land (ACOHL) has slammed
Israel's plans to build a separation wall in the Cremisan Valley to protect
itself from terrorist attacks. In a press release, Catholic ordinaries deny
claims that the Vatican and Israeli authorities had reached an agreement
allowing the construction of the wall, illegal according to a ruling by the
International Court of Justice in 2004. Unmoved by the sensitive situation,
some foreign newspapers have recently accused the Salesians of the Cremisan
convent of collusion with the Israeli government.
In fact, the
wall does not spare the two Salesian communities, the Salesian Sisters Convent
and the Salesian Monastery, which provide local villages with educational and charitable
services. A local school run by the Sisters has about 450 pupils. If the area
is divided, the latter will have to go to a place that will look like a military
camp surrounded by checkpoints.
religious leaders signed the statement, including Mgr Fouad Twal, Latin
patriarch of Jerusalem and Fr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, custodian of the Holy
Land. Both warn that the lives of 58 Christian families living in Beit Jala are
now threatened. They depend for their livelihood on 300 hectares of land from
which they will be cut off.
will lose one of the last large agricultural and recreational areas with
sources of water essential for farming.
Located a few
kilometres from Bethlehem, the Cremisan Valley is famous for its wine
production and olive trees, a verdant belt for neighbouring villages, already stressed
by overpopulation and water shortages.
According to the
bishops, dividing the area would make it impossible for local Palestinians to
remain, especially since many are already unemployed. The wall will also
contribute to the Christian exodus from the Holy Land.