Sunday, April 28, 2013

Israeli Court Rejects Monastery's Suit Seeking Change In Separation Barrier Location

In Israel last week, after a 7-year legal battle a Special Appeals Committee of the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court rejected a petition from Palestinian landowners in the town of Beit Jala and representatives of the nearby Salesian (Catholic) monastery to have the planned route of the Israel- West Bank separation barrier changed. According to Haaretz and The Guardian, plans call for the Salesian Nuns Convent in the Cremisan Valley (which houses a small community of elderly nuns) and the convent school to remain on the Palestinian side of the barrier, while the related Salesian monastery and the Convent's farmland will remain on the Israeli side. The court rejected on security grounds an alternative route that would have kept the monastery and farmland on the Palestinian side. This would have caused the barrier to run along lower land. (Also, according to a press release by the Society of St. Yves which brought the case to court, apparently it would have required the court to go beyond its jurisdiction and order dismantling of some of the barrier that has already been built.) Petitioners claim that the route upheld by the court was designed by Israel to facilitate an eventual annexation of the settlement of Har Gilo. The court rejected claims that the planned route violates treaties that Israel has signed with the Vatican. The Society of St. Yves pointed out that at least it had previously been successful in getting the convent and school onto the Palestinian side.