In the light of the upcoming decision of the special committee for appeals against the separation wall we call upon committee members and the Israeli authorities to:
- Respect international law under which the planned construction of the wall on Palestinian lands is illegal!
- Leave the educational compound of the Salesian Sisters untouched so that they can continue with their mission to serve the children of the surrounding communities!
Further we call upon the international community to support the Palestinian struggle against the wall and call upon Israel to fulfill its obligations under international law.
Cremisan is one of the last remaining agricultural areas for the Bethlehem area. The local landowners grow olives, fruit trees and grapes for the local Cremisan wine in the valley, the land is cultivated well and the old terraces are carefully kept.
Further the valley is used by people from the whole surrounding area for their family outings - on the weekends children play in the olive groves and families meet to spend time in the nature.
Beside all practical arguments, the valley is a unique living cultural and historical landscape.
Cremisan is in immediate danger to be destroyed: After the construction of the Israeli separation wall the community will be cut off from the valley. More than 50 families – mainly Christians – and two Salesian convents will lose their lands. Further, the Salesian Sisters Convent and School, which is giving education to more than 400 children from the surrounding villages, will be surrounded by military presence and separated from each other.
The plans of the Israeli authorities call for urgent action:
The planned route which is contrary to International Law, can be changed in order to minimize the damage to the life of the local community. Therefore we call upon the Israeli authorities to get its hands off Cremisan!
1. According to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, the separation barrier in general is contrary to international law. Cremisan lies behind the borders of 1967 and is mainly privately owned Palestinian and Christian land even. According to experts from The Council for Peace and Security, an association of high-ranking Israeli security experts, the now planned route is neither necessary nor logic for serving the Israeli security needs.
2. The right to education is a basic human right. The planned route of the wall will put an end to the educational compound of the Salesian sisters in Cremisan. The school will be surrounded by heavy military presence, turning the school into a prison. 400 Palestinian children – girls and boys, Muslims and Christians alike, mainly from needy families – will either be endangered by this military presence or will have to leave their school.
3. Seizing mainly Christian land is an attack on a religious minority which is specifically forbidden by international law. States should protect the existence of minorities and not confiscate their land and source of living as this forces them into migration, exile and displacement. Although emigration is a normal process among all nations, Christian emigration from the Holy Land is a unique one. Emigration from such a small community represents one of the major constraints, affecting population growth and threatening the future existence of Christians in the Holy Land at large.
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