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 — January 28, 201428 janvier 2014
 
Most Rev. Paul-André Durocher, Archbishop of Gatineau and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB)
Most Rev. Paul-André Durocher, Archbishop of Gatineau and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB)

It Will Only “Deepen the Wounds Between Palestinians and Israelis”

In a letter to the Honourable John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Most Reverend Paul-André Durocher, Archbishop of Gatineau and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), has expressed the concerns of the CCCB about the security wall in the Cremisan Valley, near Bethlehem. Archbishop Durocher is also a signatory of a statement issued today by the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church in the Holy Land on a proposed extension of the Israeli security wall. This situation will affect the lives of many Christian families and the pastoral work of the religious communities in this area of the Holy Land.

In his letter to Mr. Baird, Archbishop Durocher conveys the concerns of the Catholic Bishops of Canada: “we ask your government to raise our objections about the extension of the security wall in the Cremisan Valley, with the hope that a change to the present Israeli plan could become one step forward toward making it possible for Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace and justice.”

UPDATE: Court gives Israel deadline to justify route of barrier near Beit Jalla (February 5, 2014)

JERUSALEM (CNS) — A Feb. 3 Israeli court ruling has raised hopes that Israel will need to find an alternative route for the continuation of the security barrier in the Cremisan Valley next to the West Bank city of Beit Jalla. After deliberation following a hearing Jan. 29, the Supreme Court gave the state attorney until April 10 to justify why the route for the barrier should not be altered. The Supreme Court set a new hearing for July 30 to discuss the requested answer from the state and the responses of the people of Cremisan. Until the state responds, all work on the barrier must be stopped. If built as currently planned, the barrier would cut through Palestinian-owned land, separating families from their agricultural land as well as separating the Salesian Sisters from the community they serve in their school. The schoolchildren would be forced to go through a military-like checkpoint gate to reach their schools if the wall is built. It also would separate the women religious from the Salesian community of male religious and would separate both communities from their lands. “The case is not over until a final ruling is given. The court’s decision is an indication that it is not inclined to adopt the state’s position. We definitely have new hope — the answer of the court is a good sign,” said Zvi Avni, a lawyer from the Society of St. Yves, a Catholic human rights center that is representing the Salesian Sisters and school.


Letter of Archbishop Paul-André Durocher to John Baird (January 28, 2014)

Dear Minister Baird,

As President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), I write to express our concerns about the security wall in the Cremisan Valley which will cut off some 58 Christian families from their agricultural land and some 400 impoverished children from their school. Our concerns are fully shared by Bishops from Europe, South Africa and the United States, as you will see from the attached statement issued today by the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church in the Holy Land. I participated in this year’s meeting of the Holy Land Coordination, and was able to visit with families from Beit Jala who will be affected. Similarly, my predecessor as CCCB President, Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton, visited the Cremisan Valley last year as part of the 2013 meeting of the Holy Land Coordination, and it too reached the same conclusions.

This matter is now of urgency, not only because of the humanitarian situation threatening the Beit Jala families who are involved, but also because the Supreme Court of Israel will be holding hearings on this question, beginning January 29.

The Cremisan Valley lies in the West Bank on the Palestinian side of the Green Line adjacent to the towns of Beit Jala and Bethlehem. The State of Israel plans to re-route the separation barrier through the Cremisan Valley. The barrier will harm those families whose livelihoods depend on these lands, and will cut off other families from their agricultural and recreational lands and water sources. Should the barrier be built as proposed, it will also be virtually impossible for the Salesian Sisters there to fulfill their mission of service to the local community. The Sisters run a school that educates 400 poor children and provides much needed employment in its school and in the tilling of soil and harvesting of its produce. Indeed, the convent will be in a military zone surrounded on three sides by towers, walls and wires and patrolled by armed soldiers. This zone will confiscate most of the convent’s property.

From a solely religious perspective, the proposed wall will also prevent the traditional religious May procession from Cremisan to Beit Jala, and prevent the centuries-old Christmas procession beginning at the Monastery of Mar Elias. The barrier will separate the Salesian monastery for male religious from the convent for women religious, as well as separate both houses from their lands. Moreover, the monastery will be cut off from Bethlehem, and its religious community will be unable to employ local Palestinians to care for its property and its vineyards, and in particular to run the monastery winery. Furthermore, it will prevent a vital source of revenue in the sale of olive oil, wine and other produce to tourists and pilgrims.

Consistent with the Holy See’s position, Canada’s Catholic Bishops are aware of Israel’s need for security, and we fully support that right. Nevertheless, we believe the wall as planned will only deepen the wounds between Palestinians and Israelis. We are convinced, with our brother Bishops from around the world, that the extension of the wall will raise more scepticism from the international community. As it is, the security wall is already perceived by many as an illegal “land grab”.

The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land has also condemned the planned route of the wall in the Cremisan Valley. Their October 23, 2012, new release stated: “The planned construction of the wall will put more pressure on the remaining Christians living in Bethlehem. Without an income and a future for their children, more people will make the decision to leave the Holy Land.”

On behalf of the Catholic Bishops of Canada, we ask your government to raise our objections about the extension of the security wall in the Cremisan Valley, with the hope that a change to the present Israeli plan could become one step forward toward making it possible for Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace and justice. I would welcome an opportunity to meet with you to discuss this concern, as well as other issues regarding the Holy Land.

Sincerely yours,

The Most Reverend Paul-André Durocher
Archbishop of Gatineau and
President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

c.c.: His Excellency Rafael Barak, Ambassador of Israel to Canada
Her Excellency Vivian Bercovici, Canadian Ambassador to Israel
His Excellency Andrew Bennett, Canadian Ambassador for Religious Freedom

Posted: January 28, 2014 • Permanent link: ecu.net/?p=7243
Categories: NewsIn this article: CCCB, Israel, Palestine
Transmis : 28 janvier 2014 • Lien permanente : ecu.net/?p=7243
Catégorie : NewsDans cet article : CCCB, Israel, Palestine


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