WASHINGTON—The United States should urge the government of Israel to cease and desist in efforts to unnecessarily confiscate Palestinian lands in the Occupied West Bank, said the chairman of the Committee of International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to Secretary of State John Kerry. In a January 28 letter, Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, specifically addressed the situation in the Cremisan Valley, which he visited earlier this month.

"As I stood amidst the beauty of this agricultural valley and heard the testimony of the Christian families whose lands, livelihoods and centuries-old family traditions are threatened, I was simply astounded by the injustice of it all," wrote Bishop Pates.

Bishop Pates enclosed a January 28 communique from the bishops of the Holy Land Co-Ordination, which made a similar call:

"Our deep concern, as we have repeatedly stated is that this planned security wall is more about consolidating the settlement areas and permanently choking off Bethlehem from Jerusalem," wrote bishops from Europe, North America and South Africa. "This particular plan is a microcosm of the tragic situation in the Holy Land which incites resentment and mistrust, making the possibility of a much-needed solution less likely."

The full text of Bishop Pates' letter and the message from bishops on the Holy Land:

http://www.hcef.org/media/files/letter-to-secretary-kerry-from-bishop-pates-on-cremisan-valley-2014-01-28.pdf

By: USCCB