Despite the explicit denunciation by the international community and disregarding the successive Security Council resolutions, the Israeli Government is still proceeding in its settlement and expansions policy.
Despite the explicit denunciation by the international community and disregarding the successive Security Council resolutions, the Israeli Government is still proceeding in its settlement and expansions policy. At present, the Israeli authorities are engaged in constructing a 33 meters wide road with parallel deep trenches and tick barbed wire within the northern borders of Bethlehem.
While separating our town from its northern lands, the project isolates the whole Bethlehem District and the southern part of the West band from Jerusalem. The citizens of Bethlehem as a result to this oppressive act, were deprived access to their arable land rich in olive and fruitful trees whereas our town was shut out in front of the sole remaining zone for its natural growth.
Among the lands confiscated from the Bethlehemites to open the road, were two plots of valuable land by Bethlehem Municipality. The first with an area of 27 dunums of Joroun Al-Homos location used as storage to our municipal equipments was halved by the road into parts, besieged by trenches and barbed wire which prevents us even from reaching those equipments, and the second with a area of 13 dunums at al-Wata location.
However, the most serious worrying news were that leaked by the media following the visit of the Israeli PM Arial Sharon, Minister of Defense Benyamin ben Eliezer, Foregin Minister Shimon Peres and high ranking officials in the Israeli Defense Forces to the construction site last week, reporting the possible intention of the Israeli Government to move the existing military checkpoint north of Bethlehem to the south of Rachel Tomb. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz daily in an article titled â€œTachelâ€™s Tombâ€ published in its Website since July 21st 2002 has clearly pointed out to this matter. This simply means the expansion of Jerusalem boundaries to reach Rachel Tomb in the heart of Bethlehem on the account of confiscating additional thousands of dunums from Bethlehem lands, demolishing of dozens of residential and commercial buildings including a big building owned by the Mayor of Bethlehem Hanna Nasser as stated in the forementioned article, effective elimination to Bethlehem economy not to mention the suffocation of the daily and social life of 3000 inhabitants living in this most vital commercial and touristic area in Bethlehem which covers up 25% of the townâ€™s approved master plan.
I must say that 95% of those people are Christian citizens. Should this expansionist project be enforced, it will definitely cause the loss of these citizens to their properties and possessions saved over long decades which constituted their only assets and their sources of income. I am genuinely afraid therefore that this will drive the majority of them to emigrate outside their homeland seeking safer places and more convenient atmospheres to live in, where human rights are respected and whereby they can guarantee the daily bread of their children.
In fact, these hostile practices perpetrated by Israel do not at all help in building bridges of trust nor do they serve stability or the cause of peace in our region.
By bringing this information to your attention, I sincerely appeal to you to use your good offices and pressure the Israeli government to refrain from this flagrant new aggression on our Holy Town of Bethlehem.
I shall highly appreciate any help rendered in this respect.