A decision of the Supreme Court of Israel on 29th January 2014 may yet decide the fate of a group of sisters in a convent in the Cremisan Valley of the West Bank in Palestine.
Following a seven-year legal campaign, it was decided that the huge
West Bank barrier would be built around the convent near the Christian
town of Beit Jala, leaving the convent on the Palestinian side of the
barrier and the monastery and land belonging to the convent and local
families on the Israeli side.
nuns are represented by the Society of St Yves, a Catholic human rights
organisation. Last Friday, the community of Beit Jala conducted its
final mass at Cremisan to pray the wall would not be built.
The mass was
attended by ambassadors and diplomats representing dozens of countries
(including the European Union, Ireland, France, Italy, Brazil, Spain,
Chile, Slovenia, Portugal, Sweden, Malta and the United Kingdom among
The community had conducted the weekly mass as their tool of
nonviolent resistance for more than two years.
“We have a just cause, it is about our land, it is about our
presence, it is about our dignity, about our faith and about our future.
But the world remains passive to Israeli actions. That’s why we decided
to ask the one who always listens, God, to strengthen our work for a
just peace that will grant the future our community deserves in our free
country,” said the celebrant of the Mass, Fr. Ibrahim Shomali.
A group of Catholic bishops of the Holy Land Co-Ordination, including
bishops William Crean of Clyne and Denis Nulty of Kildare, have
appealed to the public to pray, and have called for justice to be upheld
in the Cremisan Valley.
The bishops met with many families from Beit Jala during a recent
visit to the Holy Land and heard of their pain and anguish. “They are
faced with the threatened loss of their land and livelihood as the
planned security wall will destroy vineyards, groves and orchards and
separate them from their land,” the twelve bishops wrote.
“However, the planned route of the security wall deviates sharply
from the Green Line, the internationally-recognised demarcation line
separating Israel and the territories captured in the six-day war of
They went on: “More than three quarters of the wall’s planned route
falls outside the Green Line and is illegal according to a landmark
advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, while also a
flagrant breach of the Geneva Convention and the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights.”
The bishops, representing Ireland, England, Wales, the US, France,
Germany, Scandinavia, Poland, South Africa and Canada have called on
their own governments to encourage Israel to abide by international law.
In a statement they said their deep concern was that the planned
security was “more about consolidating the settlement areas and
permanently choking off Bethlehem from Jerusalem. This particular plan
is a microcosm of the tragic situation in the Holy Land which incites
resentment and mistrust, making the possibility of a much-needed
solution less likely.”