Court Ruling Gives West Bank Convent Temporary Reprieve

JERUSALEM, February 4, 2014 (WAFA) – The Israeli Supreme Court Monday gave the state until April 10 to explain why it refuses to alter the route for a wall it is building in the vicinity of the Cremisan valley and Salesian convent in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, as suggested by an Israeli governmental security group, the Society of Saint Yves, which represents the convent in this case, said on Tuesday.

The court also set July 30 as the date to a new hearing before issuing its final ruling, which means construction of the wall will stop until then.

The convent said in its petition against the wall that construction of segments of the eight-meter high concrete segregation wall in the valley of Cremisan will cut off 58 mainly Christian families and the Salesian convent from their lands and that the convent, which is running a school, will be situated in a military area and will be separated from their neighboring monastery.

The court asked the Israeli ministry of defense and the commander of the West Bank to cancel the seizure orders issued in Cremisan, said St. Yves.

However, it explained that the case is not over, until a final ruling is given.

“The court’s decision is an indication that it is not inclined to adopt the State’s position,” said attorney Zvi Avni, a lawyer of St. Yves representing the Salesian convent and school. “We definitely have new hope – the answer of the court is a good sign.”

The Israeli special appeals committee for land seizure under emergency law released in April a verdict in favor of the State for a route which cuts off the valley from Beit Jala and separates the Salesian Convent from the Salesian Monastery.

However, in a Supreme Court hearing on Wednesday, the Council of Peace and Security, an association of high ranking Israeli security personnel, had stated in an expert opinion that an alternative route below the illegal settlement of Gilo would cause much less harm for the community. At the same time it would serve Israeli security needs in a better way.