Palestinian Christians urge pope (@pontifex) to oppose wall

Maan News Agency | April 29, 2013

Demonstrators walk along Israel's separation wall as an extension of  weekly protests at Cremisan to stop Israel completing the final  section of its wall.(MaanImages/Charlie Hoyle)

Demonstrators walk along Israel’s separation wall as an extension of
weekly protests at Cremisan to stop Israel completing the final
section of its wall.(MaanImages/Charlie Hoyle)

JERUSALEM (AFP) — Palestinian Christians near Bethlehem on Monday urged Pope Francis to speak up against an Israeli decision to build its controversial separation barrier on a route they say would cut off their community.

“We cry to your Holiness with a feeling of despair and urgency in order to keep alive our hope that justice and peace is still possible,” said an open letter from the Christians of Beit Jala, a town near the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

“The Israeli military occupation that has already started building the ‘famous wall’ annexing Palestinian land… (is) separating Bethlehem as well as other regions from Jerusalem and our holy places,” it said.

The letter came as Israel’s President Shimon Peres was due to arrive in Italy on a three-day visit during which he would meet Pope Francis.

“We respectfully ask you to make use of this meeting to pass a strong message regarding the people of Palestine, and particularly the case of Beit Jala’s Cremisan land,” it said.

The letter added: “We need concrete actions in order to end Israel’s impunity so we can live with dignity in our free state… Your holiness, your election brought us hope that things would change. We are still hopeful.”

An Israeli court ruled last week in favor of constructing the so-called separation barrier through the 170-hectare Cremisan Valley, where many of Beit Jala’s Christians work on the land and its vineyards.

The barrier’s planned route would cut them off from the valley, and would effectively separate it from Jerusalem, which is five kilometers away.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 2004 that parts of the barrier were illegal and should be torn down.

In the Cremisan area, the route of the barrier deviates sharply from the Green Line, the internationally-accepted line marking the divide between Israel and the territories it captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.

But Israel’s defense ministry insists it protects Israelis and that the route is determined by “specific security considerations” of the area.

“Building the Wall in the Bethlehem area it’s not only a violation of international law… it is also an attack against Palestinian social fabric and Palestinian Christian presence,” said Nabil Shaath, a member of President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party.

“Separating Bethlehem from Jerusalem for the first time in history, stripping Palestinians, mainly Christians, from their land in order to build and expand Israeli colonial settlements, walls and checkpoints is a cruel crime that further closes the chances for peace,” he said


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Israel’s West Bank Barrier has become the most visible manifestation of the Israeli military occupation and most pressing issue for Palestinians. Often misleadingly called a “fence”, the considerable structure snakes through the West Bank on Palestinian land, leaving Palestinians on the wrong side isolated from their land, extended families, and way of life.

One year on: The illegality of the Wall

One year ago on 9 July 2004, at the request of the United Nations, the International Court of Justice in The Hague issued an Advisory Opinion on the legal consequences of Israel’s construction of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Court made clear that the construction of the Wall and the settlements were illegal. The Advisory Opinion of the Court represents the most authoritative statement to date of the content and applicability of international law concerning Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory. On July 10, 2005, the Israeli cabinet approved the construction of the Wall in Jerusalem and vowed the completion of the Wall by September 2005.

Case before the International Court of Justice

On 8 December 2003, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution (A/RES/ES-10/14) in which it requested the International Court of Justice to “urgently render an advisory opinion on the legal consequences arising from the construction of the wall being built by Israel, in the occupied Palestinian territories, including in and around East Jerusalem, considering the rules and principles of international law. The Request for an Advisory Opinion was transmitted to the Court by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in a letter dated 8 December 2003 which was received in the Registry on 10 December 2003. The ICJ ruling against the Barrier was rendered on 9 July 2004.

Humanitarian Impact and Legal Implications

These documents and overviews provide analyses and assessments of the humanitarian impact of Israel’s Apartheid Wall and its legal consequences. Reports included assess impact on movement, education, health, refugees and legal consequences in terms of international humanitarian law.

Latest News from

The Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign’s mission is to Stop the Wall. The Campaign calls for: (1) the immediate cessation of the building of the Wall, (2) the dismantling of all parts of the Wall and its related zones already built, (3) the return of lands confiscated for the path of the Wall, and (4) the compensation of damages and lost income due to the destruction of land and property in addition to the restitution of land. This page offers the latest news posted on the website.


Israel’s West Bank Barrier has become the most visible manifestation of the Israeli military occupation and most pressing issue for Palestinians. Often misleadingly called a “security fence”, photographs, images and video show another picture.

More information at Stop the Wall

More about the Berlin Wall

Related: Evidence & Facts about Checkpoint Cruelty in Palestine

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