Palestinian Christians Appeal to Pope Francis to Intervene to Stop the Construction of the Apartheid Wall near Bethlehem and Beit Jala

A number of Palestinian Christian leaders have written an open letter to Pope Francis to intervene to stop the construction of the Israeli Apartheid Wall near the largest concentration of Palestinian Christians in the towns of Bethlehem and Beit Jala. In their letter, they appealed to the pope to protest this Israeli action in his forth coming meeting with the Israeli president Shimon Peres in the Vatican next week. The apartheid wall would completely disconnect them from their holy places in East Jerusalem, and prevent them from reaching their farm lands in the Kraimzan Valley. This valley is the place of a Catholic monastery and a convent. Once the project is completed, The Christians of Bait Jala and Bethlehem would lose their access to approximately 3,000 dönüms, 750 acres of their farm lands, and it would separate the Catholic Monastery from the convent. It will also surround the Christian school they run from three sides and make it extremely difficult for the students to benefit from its services. The Kraimzan Valley is famous for the high quality of its grapes and its fine wine, some of it is consumed by the monastery, and the surplus is sold in the local markets.

The construction of the Israeli apartheid Wall began in 2002 allegedly to prevent Palestinian fighters from attacking Israel. But Palestinians and international observers maintain that the real goal is to confiscate more Palestinian land to enlarge the illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Once completed, this wall will be 700 KM long, approximately 400 KM of it have already been completed, and the construction of the remaining 300 KM is still undergoing. Many Palestinian communities in the West Bank have been cut off from their farm lands and from one another as a result of this wall. The International Court of Justice condemned the wall as illegal in 2004 and ordered Israel to remove it. But like in the case of all resolutions of the United Nations and other international organizations, this decision has been ignored by Israel.