OTTAWA (CCN) — The president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has written the prime minister asking him to use his influence on Israel to prevent an unjust route for its security wall.
Written Sept. 17, two days before Gatineau Archbishop Paul-André Durocher ended a two-year term as CCCB president, the letter concerns the Cremisan Valley between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The proposed security wall there would cut off 58 Palestinian Christian families from their agricultural lands.
The letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper asks the Canadian government to “call on the Israeli authorities to find a just resolution” to a decision this past July by the country’s Supreme Court that now will permit the building of the wall.
Durocher described how the wall means the families “will lose their agricultural lands and subsequent livelihood, and the local Catholic Salesian monastery as well the sisters’ convent will be severely restricted in their educational services to 450 disadvantaged children — girls and boys, Muslims and Christians — from the surrounding towns and villages.”
Palestinian families have been fighting the proposed location of the wall in the courts for the past eight years. In April, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected the location and “invited the military authorities to find alternatives less destructive to the local populations,” said CCCB outgoing general secretary Msgr. Patrick Powers in a Sept. 25 news release. In July, however, the court reversed the decision.
The CCCB president noted he was writing, “In communion with the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and with the Conferences of Bishops of Europe, the United States and South Africa,” and is “greatly disappointed with this latest development.” Durocher asked the Canadian prime minister, given his “good relations with the Government of Israel,” to “raise this question” with them in order “to find a just resolution to the problem in the Cremisan Valley, a resolution that will show leadership and compassion.”
The archbishop expressed sadness that the Israeli authorities “agreed to begin uprooting the olive trees on this property already on Aug. 17, only days after the Palestinian families had appealed the Supreme Court of Israel’s July decision.”
Durocher visited the Cremison Valley earlier this year as part of the annual Co-ordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church in the Holy Land.