Israeli Decision on Barrier "Double-Edged," Says Franciscan

Father David Jaeger Analyzes Court Ruling

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JERUSALEM, JULY 2, 2004 ( A spokesman for the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land described Israel’s Supreme Court decision on the barrier as a «double-edged sword.»

The decision orders the government to reroute part of its West Bank separation barrier in the area of Modiin, in the northwest periphery of Jerusalem.

Father David Jaeger said the decision «on one hand represents an important defeat for the top brass, because it denies that the chosen route of the barrier is the only one compatible with the needs for security.»

«But on the other hand,» he told Vatican Radio, «it does not deny the legitimacy of the barrier as such. By de-legitimizing part of the barrier’s route the court might help the government to defend itself against external criticisms.»

Father Jaeger stressed that «it is almost impossible to describe fully» the upheaval caused by the barrier.

It «separates farmers from their fields, children from their school, employees from their jobs, patients from their hospital,» he said.

«The barrier penetrates the living fabric of whole communities and splits them,» the Franciscan said. «Moreover, all along the route there are villages that might find themselves effectively surrounded by the barrier or isolated in a ghetto. It is a scene that is frequently surrealist.»

In the Christian context, «the barrier divides several convents, gardens and properties» and «as currently planned, it would divide the Mount of Olives, the Shrine of Lazarus’ Tomb in Bethany. Lazarus, Mary and Martha’s house would remain outside Jerusalem» and, therefore, would be inaccessible, he said.

«Efforts of persuasion continue these days,» Father Jaeger added. «There are members of the U.S. Congress working on this, as well as the White House. They are trying to convince Israel to avoid these symbols of the Christian presence.»

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