March 14, 2003
His Excellency Ambassador Daniel Ayalon
Embassy of Israel
3514 International Drive, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Dear Ambassador Ayalon:
I am writing as chairman of the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Committee on International Policy to protest the extension of the security wall between Israel and the West Bank in the area of Rachel's Tomb.
I am told the wall cuts off a neighborhood of sixty Christian families from the rest of the city of Bethlehem. It results in the denial of most services to the neighborhood and allows the residents only narrow access to their homes. The wall also isolates the neighborhood not only from Bethlehem, but also from Jerusalem and the other Territories. Other areas are affected in similar ways by the construction of this wall.
I ask that your government take immediate action to redress this problem. The people of Bethlehem, and particularly its Christians, have suffered much in recent years. This last imposition is the latest in a series of debilitating acts. It ought not be allowed to stand. Constructive alternatives for the security of Rachel's Tomb should be found.
I would be grateful for your government's prompt response.
Most Reverend John H. Ricard, S.S.J.
Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee
Committee on International Policy