Many protest Israel’s plan to build Cremisan Valley barrier
By Catholic News Service
A U.S. bishop is upset with Israel’s decision to build a separation barrier along a route that will nearly surround a convent and its primary school and confiscate most of their land on the outskirts of a Palestinian West Bank community.
Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, protested the Israeli plan to build the barrier near Beit Jalla in a May 6 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.
"In solidarity with our brother bishops in the Holy Land, we oppose rerouting the separation wall in the Cremisan Valley," the letter said, referencing arguments that Holy Land bishops made to the Israeli government in a letter opposing the barrier.
The barrier’s route will separate a Salesian monastery from a Salesian convent and surround both on three sides while separating both from land they own. It would also cut off 58 Christian families from agricultural and recreational land they own, hurting their livelihood, Bishop Pates said.
The barrier, which would serve to connect to Israeli West Bank settlements, has been the subject of six years of legal proceedings. The Israeli Special Appeals Committee for Land Seizure ruled in favor of construction under emergency law in late April.
Bishop Pates urged Kerry to address the concerns raised by Jerusalem’s Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, who reminded "Israeli decision-makers that the expropriation of lands does not serve the cause of peace."
"The Cremisan Valley is a microcosm of a protracted pattern that has serious implications for the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As the wall moves and constricts more communities in the West Bank, the possibility of a future two-state resolution becomes less likely," the letter said.
"Moving the wall and disassociating Palestinian families from their lands and livelihoods will incite more resentment against the state of Israel among residents of the West Bank, not less, increasing the frustrations that can lead to violence. Such policies put Israeli citizens at risk and weaken initiatives for reconciliation and peace," Bishop Pates continued.
The letter is a reiteration of the same stance Bishop Pates and the committee took in a late 2012 letter for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The full text of Bishop Pates’ letter can be read online at http://bit.ly/13d7SQK.