26 August 2015
On 20 August, Israeli heavy equipment loads an olive tree after it was uprooted to make way for the controversial separation barrier in the Cremisan Valley in Beit Jala, West Bank.
(photo: CNS photo/Debbie Hill)
The latest developments in the Cremisan Valley — with Israel moving forward with construction of a controversial barrier that will divide the region — has prompted a response from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (U.S.C.C.B.).
Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces this week sent the following letter to Secretary of State John Kerry:
Dear Secretary Kerry:
As Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I write regarding the injustice being perpetrated in the Cremisan Valley near Bethlehem in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. My predecessor as Chairman called this situation to your attention earlier. A recent statement of the Latin Patriarchate encapsulates our concerns:
“On Monday morning, 17 August, Israeli bulldozers arrived unannounced on private properties in Beir Ona, near the Cremisan Valley, to resume construction of the Separation Wall. The residents of the area were surprised and felt the pain of the loss of about 50 of their centuries-old olive trees that were uprooted.
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem strongly condemns this Israeli conducted operation, which is without regard to the rights of the families of the valley; the rights that these same families have bravely tried to defend before the law over the past decade. We join with the sorrow and frustration of these oppressed families, and we strongly condemn the injustice done to them.
The construction of the Separation Wall and the confiscation of lands of the local families are threats and insults to peace. We call on the Israeli authorities to await the decision on the petition submitted by the families of the Valley to the Supreme Court of Israel a few days ago and to stop the work that has been started.
We urge you to press Israeli authorities to stop the work on the Separation Wall whose route is confiscating the private lands of Palestinian families in the West Bank. Such actions undermine the cause of peace and impair the possibility of a two-state solution.
Most Reverend Oscar Cantú
Bishop of Las Cruces
Chairman, Committee on International Justice and Peace
Tags: Palestine Israel Holy Land