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April 26, 2013
The Israeli Special Appeals Committee for land seizure under emergency law released its verdict last Wednesday 24/04/2013, in the case of the Cremisan Valley against the separation wall. The verdict ruled in favor of the proposed second route which leaves the convent on the Palestinian side of the wall. With this decision the appeals submitted by Advocate Ghayyath Nasser who represented the land owners in the Cremisan Valley and the lawyer of the Society of St. Yves, Advocate Manal Hazzan-Abu Sinni, who represented the nuns of the Salesian Convent, were all together rejected. The decision came out two months after the final hearing on 12th of February and after seven years of proceedings.
The committee decided that building the separation wall according to the alternative route which will surround the Salesian Nuns Convent and Primary School from three sides and will confiscate most of the convent’s lands, is a reasonable solution that balances Israel’s security needs on one hand, and freedom of religion and the right to education on the other.
The Society of St. Yves was initially successful in changing the primary course of the wall, by which the Convent and the School will remain on the Palestinian side of the wall. Still the Society of St. Yves sees the verdict as highly problematic and unjust as it doesn’t even discuss the violation of freedom of religion, the right to education as well as the economical damage caused for a unique Christian minority in Beit Jala by the construction of the wall.
In the decision it is emphasized that the nuns were allowed to join the case at a late stage, which resulted in altering the primary suggested route of the wall and left the convent on the Israeli side. Through the new route the school and the convent are not separated from Beit Jala anymore. By approving the alternative route the educational mission of the school will not be affected as the street leading to the compound will remain open. The committee also declared that the claims regarding future expansion of the school and convent are weak arguments which have no legal implications as they were not backed by plans or maps approved by the authorities.