Latin Patriarchate condemns Israeli authority’s decision to resume construction of West Bank Barrier

Königstein, Surrey, 24th August 2015. The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem has strongly condemned the decision to resume the construction of the West Bank Barrier, calling it “an insult to peace.”

On Monday 17th August, bulldozers arrived to restart the building of the barrier through the Cremisan ​​Valley near Bethlehem – despite the Supreme Court having rejected a planned route through the area in April 2015, after a nine-year legal battle.

Israeli authorities began work on the West Bank Barrier, which separates parts of the Palestinian Territories from Israel, in 2002 following a spate of suicide bombings by militant groups.

According to a statement by the Latin Patriarchate sent to Aid to the Church in Need: “Israeli bulldozers arrived unannounced on private property in Beir Ona, near the Cremisan Valley, to resume the construction of the separation wall.“The people of the area have noted with surprise and pain that their 50, centuries-old olive trees have been uprooted.”

His Beatitude Fouad Twal called on the Israeli authorities to wait for the outcome of a petition submitted by the families of the Valley to the Supreme Court a few days ago.

The statement from the Latin Patriarchate expressed the Patriarch’s “sadness and frustration of those oppressed” by the building of the barrier and condemned the “injustice done to them”.

The security wall’s route has been opposed by local Christian leaders who have stated that its route deviates from the Green Line – the boundary between the State of Israel and the Palestinian territories according to the 1949 armistice agreements.

The chair of the Department for International Affairs of the episcopal conference of England and Wales, Bishop Declan Lang, also lent his voice in support of Patriarch Twal condemning the Israeli authority’s actions.

He said: “The action of the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] in bulldozing olive trees to prepare for the construction of the separation barrier is a cruel blow to the hopes raised by the recent Supreme Court ruling.

“I urge the Israeli authorities to stop construction and reconsider urgently their approach to the people of the Cremisan Valley which has caused such grave injustice.”

Bishop Lang added his thoughts were with those “facing this unjust and difficult situation and who are seeking peace in the midst of this conflict.”

Clare Creegan.