Holy Land Bishops Appeal for Defense of Cremisan Valley

Say a Court Ruling That Expands Land Confiscation Cannot Serve Peace

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The bishops of the Holy Land released a statement last Friday calling on the international community to protect the Cremisan valley. The valley is home to a Salesian convent, monastery and school. If the Israeli security wall is built along projected routes, the Salesians will lose property, as will the few dozen Christian families of the area.

Here is the text of the bishops’ statement:

The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land (ACOHL) observes with anxiety the latest developments in the “Cremisan” Valley’s case, of which the final verdict is expected any minute now. The last hearing, held on November 30th, 2014 was meant to pressure the residents in order to make a choice between two unacceptable alternatives, both to the community and the Salesian Congregation.

ACOHL stands wholeheartedly with achieving justice in “Cremisan” and against building the separation wall, which is contrary to international law. In fact, the wall is intended by Israel, not to achieve security for its pre-June 1967 borders, but to protect the settlements illegally constructed on previously confiscated land in the early seventies and to give more expansion to Gilo and Har Gilo settlements. At the same time, the wall alienates the most basic rights and freedom of the Christian community of Beit Jala.

ACOHL stresses that land confiscation and settlement expansion do not serve peace in the region and warns of the continuous emigration of the “Cremisan” community, mostly Christians, as a result of building the separation wall. ACOHL hopes that the Israeli High Court changes its route and shifts it along the “green line”. The bishops are in favor of building bridges and not walls.

Finally, ACOHL calls on the international community to take immediate action to protect the “Cremisan” valley’s integrity within the Palestinian side and prays for all those in power and authority to wake up and realize the values of justice and peace, based on mutual respect and international legitimacy. 

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