News

Urgent need for support as Beit Jala families seek justice

28/01/2014 10:00 am

Prayers at an outdoor Mass in the Cremisan Valley

Bishops call for prayer and for international pressure as Supreme Court of Israel Hearing into Cremisan Valley starts.

As Bishops of the Holy Land Co-ordination, we call for justice to be upheld in the Cremisan Valley, near Bethlehem. Israel’s plans to build a security wall on the land of 58 Christian families should be abandoned. We met with many families from Beit Jala during our recent visit to the Holy Land. We heard of their pain and anguish. They are faced with the threatened loss of their land and livelihood as the planned security wall will destroy vineyards, groves and orchards and separate them from their land.

We recognise the right of the State of Israel to security and secure borders. However, the planned route of the security wall deviates sharply from the Green Line, the internationally-recognised demarcation line separating Israel and the territories captured in the six-day war of 1967. More than three quarters of the wall’s planned route falls outside the Green Line and is illegal according to a landmark advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, while also a flagrant breach of the Geneva Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
 
We urge our governments to encourage Israel to follow international law. In particular, for Israel to respect the livelihoods of these families and for the people of Beit Jala to be protected from further expropriation of their land and homes by Israel. This is a matter of urgency as on 29 January the Israeli Supreme Court starts its hearing into the building of a security wall in the Cremisan Valley and the families’ appeal to protect their land.

Our deep concern, as we have repeatedly stated is that this planned security wall is more about consolidating the settlement areas and permanently choking off Bethlehem from Jerusalem. This particular plan is a microcosm of the tragic situation in the Holy Land which incites resentment and mistrust, making the possibility of a much-needed solution less likely.

Our prayers are with the people of Beit Jala as they seek justice. We offer them also for all who seek a just peace in the Holy Land.

Archbishop Stephen Brislin
South Africa

Bishop Pierre Burcher
Scandinavia

Bishop William Crean
Ireland

Bishop Michel Dubost
France

Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher
Canada

Archbishop Patrick Kelly
England and Wales

Bishop William Kenney
England and Wales

Bishop Declan Lang
England and Wales

Bishop Denis Nulty
Ireland

Bishop Richard Pates
United States of America

Bishop Thomas Renz
Germany

Bishop Janusz Stepnowski
Poland

Archbishop Joan Enric Vives
Spain

About the Holy Land Co-ordination

Since 1998, the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has organised the annual meeting of the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land and at the invitation of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land. It's often more simply called the Holy Land Co-ordination.

Mandated by the Holy See, the Holy Land Co-ordination meets every January in the Holy Land, focusing on prayer, pilgrimage and persuasion with the aim of acting in solidarity with the Christian community there and sharing in the pastoral life of the local Church as it experiences intense political and social-economic pressure.