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Jerusalem Patriarch condemns resumption of West Bank barrier construction
"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."
By Clare Creegan
NEW YORK—The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem has strongly condemned the decision of the Israeli government to resume the construction of the West Bank barrier—calling it “an insult to peace.”
Two weeks ago, bulldozers arrived to restart the building of the barrier through the Cremisan Valley near Bethlehem. Work is set to resume despite the Israeli Supreme Court having rejected a planned route through the area in April 2015, after a nine-year legal battle.
A statement by the Latin Patriarchate, made available to international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, said: “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 dozens of centuries-old olive trees have been uprooted.”Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem called on the Israeli authorities to wait for the outcome of a petition submitted by local families 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 it 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 in 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 expressed his support for those “facing this unjust and difficult situation and who are seeking peace in the midst of this conflict.”
Israeli authorities first began work on the West Bank barrier, which separates parts of the Palestinian Territories from Israel proper, in 2002, at the height of the second intifada. The Israeli government has defended the construction of the barrier, citing a sharp drop in suicide attacks against Israelis as proof of its effectiveness.
Patriarch Twal; ACN photo