Israel: Catholic bishops deny giving 'green light' to defensive wall
An assembly of Catholic bishops of the Holy Land strongly condemned the Israeli government's project to build a a separation wall in the Cremisan valley, between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The bishops any supposed "green light " from the Vatican to proceed with the construction of the wall, which the bishops assert is in violation of international law.
In a statement signed by all the members of the Assembly of Bishops, they claim that the people of the area around Bethlehem, and in particular the village of Walaja will bear a heavy burden because of the wall. Currently, there are approximately 58 Christian families in Beit Jala community nearby, as well as two Christian religious communities. "The local community" emphasize the Catholic bishops, "will lose one of its last big agricultural and recreational areas as well as a crucial water source for farmers."
The Cremisan valley is the principal green space for the people in the environs of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. According to a report from the FIDES news agency, "If the project is carried out, the four hundred children attending the Salesian Sisters' school will spend their childhood in a sort of open-air prison, surrounded by barriers and checkpoints."
The Catholic bishops also deny the existence of any agreement between the Vatican, the local Church and the Israeli authorities regarding the construction of the wall, to the contrary of recent rumors. The statement also refers to a 2004 finding by the International Court of Justice that established the illegality of the separation wall.
The Catholic bishops of the Holy Land have sent to the Catholic human rights organization, Saint Yves Society, a request to file a complaint against the Israeli military in the hope of bringing a stop to the construction of the wall. Israel contends that the wall is necessary for its national defense.
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