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Vatican sees "weighty sentence" against Israeli wall

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls has told reporters that the International Court's condemnation of Israel's West Bank security wallis a "weighty sentence".

But Catholic World News reports that he conceded that the court's verdict leaves the future open.

The court said on Friday that it is against international law for Israel to build its barrier in the occupied territories and that it should be dismantled.

"Now we must see what governments do," observed the papal spokesman.

Following the International Court's ruling that Israel should cease construction of the wall, because the structure violated the rights of the Palestinian residents, the UN is expected to take up deliberation on the issue. The Israeli government has announced that it will not accept the court's judgment.

Meanwhile US churches have appealed to their government to support the International Court of Justice's advisory opinion on Israel's separation barrier. For nearly a year, the US churches that work together through Churches for Middle East Peace have advocated for the United States government's intervention to stop Israel's building of the barrier beyond the 1967 "green line" on occupied land in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.

Franciscan Sr Florence Deacon, director of Franciscans International (an NGO at the United Nations in New York), noted that Franciscans have had custody of Christianity's traditional Holy Land shrines for 800 years. She appreciated the Court's emphasis on the role of the United Nations in negotiating a just and lasting peace in that land sacred to all the children of Abraham.

She said: "For the past 50 years, the United States has been a trusted friend of the state of Israel while also caring about the Palestinian people's welfare, and more recently their political rights. Our government needs to use these historic ties to push both sides toward serious negotiations without further delay."

Pictured: Palestinian Catholic Ghassan Handal stands at the Israeli security barrier behind his family home in Bethlehem. Handal told Catholic News Service that the newly constructed wall took his family's land. The barrier was condemned by the International Court of Justice July 9. Father Shawki Baterian, an official with the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, welcomed the court's non-binding ruling, saying that the fence was "increasing hatred between Israelis and Palestinians." (CNS photo by Debbie Hill)

Vatican sees "weighty sentence" against Israeli wall (Catholic World News 12/7/04)
US churches ask Bush to respect court view on Israel's separation wall (Independent Catholic News 12/7/04)

International Court of Justice
Christian hunger strikers welcome ruling on Israel's Separation Wall (Ekklesia 12/7/04)
The Wall and its consequences for ordinary citizens (AsiaNews 9/2/04)
Vatican cardinal condemns Israel security wall (CathNews 14/11/03)

13 Jul 2004