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November 8, 2012
Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
2201 C. Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Madam Secretary:
Recent actions by Palestinians and Israelis perpetuate an unsustainable status quo that is
profoundly dangerous to both peoples. Both sides are undermining the possibility of a two-state solution to the conflict—a secure and recognized Israel living in peace alongside a viable and independent Palestinian state.
The recent barrage of rocket attacks from Gaza into Southern Israel represents a continuing pattern of morally unjustifiable uses of indiscriminate force against civilians. They spread fear among Israeli families and damage the Palestinian cause by undercutting the trust necessary for negotiations.
Israeli occupation and security policies are also undermining the possibility of a two-state
solution. A recent statement of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land
expressing great concern over the route of the Israeli-Palestinian separation barrier in the
Cremisan Valley is a vivid case in point.
The State of Israel plans to re-route the separation barrier through the Cremisan Valley, which will harm 58 Christian families whose livelihoods and living conditions depend on these lands.
Proceeding with this plan will cut families off from agricultural and recreational lands, other
family members, water sources, and schools – including depriving Christian Palestinian youth of fellowship with their peers. In solidarity with our brother bishops in the Holy Land, we oppose re-routing the separation wall in the Cremisan Valley and ask the State Department to raise the concerns expressed by the bishops of the Holy Land in the enclosed statement with the government of Israel.
The Cremisan Valley situation is a microcosm of a protracted pattern that has serious
implications for the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As the wall moves and constricts more and more communities in the West Bank, the possibility of a future resolution becomes less likely. Moving the wall and disassociating Palestinian families from their lands and livelihoods will incite more resentment against the State of Israel among residents of the West Bank, not less, increasing the frustrations that can lead to violence. Such policies put Israeli citizens at risk and weaken initiatives for reconciliation and peace.
USCCB supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an end of indefensible rocket attacks in southern Israel, and a reversal of Israeli policies, like those proposed in the Cremisan Valley, that undermine a just resolution of the conflict.
Our Conference reiterates its call for strong U.S. leadership that holds both parties accountable for building a just and lasting peace. Palestinians must end violence, improve security and strengthen governance. Israelis must stop settlement expansion in the West Bank, ease residency requirements that separate families, cease home demolitions in East Jerusalem in order to protect Palestinian families, allow movement of people and goods in the West Bank, and review the route of the security barrier for its impact on Palestinian lives and livelihoods, including in the Cremisan Valley. Leaders on both sides must give Israelis and Palestinians hope for a different future free of fear and full of promise.
Most Reverend Richard E. Pates
Bishop of Des Moines
Chair, Committee on International Justice and Peace