(Vatican Radio) Leaders of the small Catholic community in the Holy Land have reacted with dismay to a decision by Israel’s Supreme Court to allow the building of the separation barrier through the historic Cremisan Valley.
Following a series of international appeals, the court in April blocked plans by the Israeli military to extend the wall through the valley which is home to two Salesian monasteries and a convent school. Under the latest court ruling, those religious buildings will remain on the Palestinian side of the wall, accessible from the town of Beit Jala, while land belonging to 58 Palestinian families will be cut off on the Israeli side of the wall. While Israel claims the construction of the barrier is necessary for security reasons, Palestinians say the move is aimed at confiscating fertile land for the expansion of two Israeli settlements.
Bishop William Shomali, the Latin Patriarch’s Vicar for Jerusalem, told Vatican Radio’s Massimiliano Menichetti that local Christians are shocked and saddened by the Supreme Court decision..
We were surprised this morning by the new decision of the High Court ….we were totally surprised and we don’t understand why this decision now.
We will consult with our lawyers, they will tell us what we can and cannot do in the short time that remains ahead…..we cannot remain silent, we react and we hope that we will succeed, we will try again and again.
(Barak Ravid) Despite four appeals from Israeli diplomats, the Vatican has declined to disclose details about the content of the agreement, senior official in Jerusalem says. — The Vatican has rebuffed Israeli requests to obtain the text of the agreement signed by the Holy See with the “State of Palestine” two weeks ago, a senior official in Jerusalem has told Haaretz. Despite four appeals from Israeli diplomats, the Vatican has declined to provide details about the content of the agreement, the official says.
The agreement was signed on June 26 in Vatican City in Rome. Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malaki signed on behalf of the Palestinians and Foreign Minister Archbishop Paul Gallagher signed on behalf of the Vatican. The agreement, which formalizes relations between the parties, entails official Vatican recognition of Palestine as a state. It contains eight addenda concerning the Catholic Church’s activity in “the State of Palestine.”
Immediately following the signing, Israel’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing regret over the Holy See’s decision to recognize Palestine as a state, saying “This hasty step damages the prospects for advancing a peace agreement and harms the international effort to convince the PA to return to direct negotiations with Israel.”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon added, “We also regret the one-sided texts in the agreement which ignore the historic rights of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel and to the places holy to Judaism in Jerusalem. Israel cannot accept the unilateral determinations in the agreement which do not take into account Israel’s essential interests and the special historic status of the Jewish people in Jerusalem.”
After this initial public reaction, there were talks at the Foreign Ministry as to what could be done.
However, Israel has not seen a full copy of the treaty – just the three-page preface to it. This section emphasizes the Palestinians’ right to an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem on the basis of the 1967 lines that will live in peace and security alongside its neighbors.
In the Foreign Ministry discussions, there was particular concern regarding the addendum dealing with the status of the Christian holy places beyond the Green Line, especially in East Jerusalem – where there is Israeli sovereignty or military control. Another concern was that the treaty between the Vatican and the Palestinians contradicts a similar treaty that already exists between the Vatican and Israel.
One of the first decisions made was to send Israeli Ambassador Zion Evrony for talks with senior Vatican officials to obtain more information about the agreement. Evrony held three separate meetings with Vatican officials over the past two weeks and requested a full copy of the treaty to ascertain that it contains nothing that would violate the accords between the Vatican and Israel. Senior Foreign Ministry officials also met with the Vatican’s ambassador to Israel and made a similar request.
A senior Israeli official said that in all four instances, Vatican representatives turned down the Israeli requests, provided only general information about the agreement but would not supply a copy of the entire document.
“The people from the Catholic Church claimed that once the treaty was ratified by both the Vatican and the Palestinians it would become public and then we could receive a copy,” said the Israeli official. “They would not reply to any specific questions from us and simply repeated that we have nothing to worry about because the agreement with the Palestinians does not contradict the agreement with Israel.”
The senior Israeli official stressed that despite the reassurances from the Vatican representatives – or perhaps because of them – Jerusalem’s concerns about the content of the agreement have not been alleviated. In fact, the concerns have grown.
POSTED BY IL SISMOGRAFO ORE 22:46