Cremisan Case Update
- Date: 2016-06-10
In April 2015 a final ruling was delivered by the Israeli High Court on the Cremisan case which stated that the state of Israel must keep both the Convent and the Monastery connected to each other as one unit and to the population whom they serve in the Bethlehem district and that a “facilitated access” to land should be given to the landowners.
Several weeks after the decision the Israeli Ministry of Defense expressed its intention to start building the annexation Wall in an area called Beir-Ona which constitutes the beginning of the Cremisan valley. This triggered a second round of legal challenges in the Israeli High Court of Justice by both the Private land owners and the Silesian nuns Convent. The land owners stressed in their petition that building the annexation Wall, as suggested by the Israeli Ministry of Defense is contrary to the decision delivered by the Israeli High Court which expressly stated that it must find an alternative route to the Wall. On the other hand the Convent in their petition requested the High Court to order the Ministry of defense to reveal the whole route of the Wall including around the convent and the Monastery because the suggested works might adversely affect the decision of the Israeli High Court from April 2015 which expressly stated that both the Convent and the Monastery should remain connected to each other and to the population whom they serve in the Bethlehem area, as well as enjoy convenient access to their agricultural lands. The Convent also requested that the right to object to any route that might be suggested by the Israeli Ministry of defense should be kept. In addition a request was submitted demanding the Court to issue an injunction to stop the construction works. Nevertheless, Israeli forces started building the annexation Wall in Beir Onah in August 2015 and the construction goes on today, with many parts of it already complete.
In its most recent decision delivered on the 21st of January 2016 the Israeli High Court rejected the petitions lodged by the private land owners and the Salesian Convent, and held that Israel can build the annexation Wall as planned, up to the road that connects the Convent and the Monastery to Beit-Jala while keeping a 225 meter gap in the Wall in order to keep both the Convent and the Monastery connected together and to the communities whom they serve. The Court also held that if it turns out in the future that the current route of the annexation Wall negatively affects the rights of the Convent and the Monastery, then it is not to be considered the final route, nor shall it be construed as the final route should it constitute a hindrance to the land owners’ reasonable access to their agricultural lands. This decision came despite the fact that the Israeli Ministry of Defense argued that the route of this section of the Wall is the final route.
The Court also held that once Israel decides on the final route of the separation Wall, it will be possible for the land owners and the Convent and/ or any affected party to submit objections against the whole route including the 1.2 kilometer section of the wall which is currently being built.
It is noteworthy to refer that on July 9th 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) called for the annexation Wall to be dismantled and labeled it illegal under international law, stressing the overwhelming violations it causes to the most basic rights of Palestinians. Today the Wall still stands and is being expanded in many areas in the West Bank, including in Cremisan. The annexation Wall was regarded by the ICJ as disproportionate in regards to Israel’s security needs, and a form of collective punishment against the whole Palestinian population in the occupied West Bank. The ICJ also stated that in such cases it is only legal to build the annexation Wall inside Israeli borders.