Washington, D.C., (Zenit.org)
The bishops of the Holy Land Coordination are asking for international pressure as the Supreme Court of Israel is set to begin its hearings on the security wall that would run through the Cremisan Valley.
In a statement released today, the 12 prelates of the Holy Land Coordination, which includes bishops from around the globe, made a "call for justice to be upheld in the Cremisan Valley, near Bethlehem."
The Israeli Supreme Court starts its hearing Wednesday.
"Israel’s plans to build a security wall on the land of 58 Christian families should be abandoned," the bishops stated. "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."
The bishops acknowledged the "right of the State of Israel to security and secure borders."
"However," they noted, "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."
The bishops, who come from the United States, England, Canada, South Africa, Poland and other nations, said they are urging their governments to encourage Israel to follow international law and, "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."
"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," the bishops continued. "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."
These are the bishops of the Holy Land Co-ordination, 2014:
Archbishop Stephen Brislin, South Africa
Bishop Peter Burcher, Scandinavia, Finland and Iceland
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