Dear members of the PIEF Core group and network partners,
After a prolonged legal tangle, justice prevails in the Cremisan Valley. The Cremisan monastery that was threatened by a physical division by the Israeli Annexation Wall will now remain undivided. The Cremisan Monastry has, over a period of nine years, been the focal point of non-violent direct action locally accompanied by global solidarity. Church leaders supported by the people had also initiated multiple court proceedings to save the monastery. Palestinians are satisfied and celebrating this victory.
The Israeli High Court ruled to reject a plan by the Security and Peace Commission, an Israeli organization consisting of former Israeli Army officers and generals, to build a wall through the center of the Valley, splitting church and private land in half. In so ruling, the High Court has rejected the somewhat untenable assurance that they would put a door in the Wall to allow the monks and nuns to go through (at the Israeli army's discretion).
The Cremisan Monastery is a Salesian monastery in the West Bank, near Beit Jala built in 1885 on ruins of a 7th century Byzantine monastery. The monastery accepts theology students from around the world and has been in operation since the establishment of the monastery in the 19th century.
At the height of the struggle for Indian independence in India, Mahatma Gandhi famously said: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." The Palestinians have now won an important victory through their sustained and multi-pronged resistance against Israel's aim to violate Palestinian rights and trample over an important heritage site which has more than just historical value.
In this final victory, and the prolonged agony which accompanied the struggle to save the monastry, the notion of Summud has yet again been affirmed. The spirit of 'never-say-die' has proved decisive in favour of justice.
It is said that 'the darkest hour just about precedes day break'. Just ahead of Easter celebrations, we can now assertively affirm that there is always hope in the resurrected Christ.
In solidarity and contentment with the signs of hope,
Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum
(Report from International Middle East Media Centre)
A Bethlehem-area monastery that was slated to be split in half by the Israeli Annexation Wall has won its appeal in the Israeli High Court, after a nine year struggle that involved multiple court cases and non-violent direct action to save the monastery.
The ruling follows a long saga involving monks, nuns, bishops, Palestinian Christian residents of the Cremisan Valley, and international supporters. In 2013, the Special Appeals Committee of the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court ruled against the monastery and residents, saying that the Wall could be constructed through the center of the Cremisan Valley, which is home to a convent, monastery, religious school and 58 local families.
The petitioners decided to appeal that decision to the Israeli High Court, which ruled in their favor on Thursday. The Court rejected a proposal introduced by the Security and Peace Commission, an Israeli organization consisting of former Israeli Army officers and generals, which called for the Wall to be constructed through the center of the Valley, splitting church and private land in half. The Security and Peace Commission said that they would put a door in the Wall to allow the monks and nuns to go through (at the Israeli army's discretion).
The petitioners, which include Christian families, church representatives and the monastery leadership, called for the route of the Wall to be changed, to annex less Palestinian land. The Israeli Annexation Wall, most of which has already been constructed, snakes through the West Bank annexing thousands of acres of Palestinian land to the state of Israel, and effectively annexing hundreds of illegal Israeli settlements, constructed on stolen Palestinian land, into Israel.
According to the Palestine News Network, one of the two judges who ruled in the case added that in his personal opinion, any future plans should ensure that both Monasteries in the Cremisan valley should remain connected and that both Monasteries should also remain connected and accessible to the local community in Beit Jala. This suggests that both the Monasteries should remain on the Palestinian side of the wall.
For more sources see:
Bethlehem: Israeli High Court halts building of Cremisan separation wall
Society of St. Yves (Catholic Centre for Human Rights)
Israeli Court rejects Cremisan Valley West Bank barrier
Israel's top court blocks extension of Seperation Wall through Cremisan Valled (The Guardian)
Supreme Court nixes West Bank barrier route outside Jerusalem
Compiled by Ranjan Solomon, Communications Consultant, Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (WCC)