Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - The
Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem is "surprised" and
"concerned" by the ruling issued by Israel's Special Appeals
Committee, which recently approved the construction of a Separation Wall in the
Cremisan Valley, which creates difficulties for local residents to send their
children to school.
The Cremisan Valley is home to two Salesian convents, one for monks
and one for nuns. They run schools and provide agricultural training programmes
for residents of the Christian village of Beit Jala, which is located in the
With the construction of the wall, the nuns' convent and the
adjoining primary school will remain on the Palestinian side, but will be surrounded
by a wall on three sides, leaving under Israeli control most of the land used for
agricultural training programmes.
The wall will also force some 450 Palestinian pupils to attend a
facility that looks more like a prison than a school, since it will be surrounded
by military checkpoints.
Interviewed by AsiaNews,
Mgr Shomali, auxiliary bishop of Jerusalem, said that the reasons in favour of
the construction of the wall are weak and inaccurate.
"Israel's security can be guaranteed by building the wall further
away or by finding alternative solutions," the prelate said. "In any event, for
the authorities the location could not be changed because the wall has already
In fact, as it waited for the verdict, the Israeli government continued
to build the wall leaving empty the 1.5 km that pass through the Salesians property.
For Mgr Shomali, in doing what it did Israel exercised a new right, violating its
"In order to get the decision overturned, the Patriarchate, the Cremisan
Salesian community and the Christian residents of Beit Jala have always used
moderate and non-violent means, including prayer," the bishop said. "The State
of Israel ought to recognise this peaceful behaviour."
Issued on 24 April, the ruling is the culmination of a seven-year
legal battle. For Israeli authorities, the alternative route represents a
reasonable compromise between Israel's security needs and the principles of
freedom of religion and education on which the convent's legal representatives had
based their case.
On Friday, the St Yves Society, a Catholic human rights organisation
the lawsuit on behalf of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land,
issued a statement in which it slammed again "the injustice of the measure". (S.C.)