The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, has called for the removal of the separation barrier being constructed between the West Bank and Israel.
The top Catholic official in the Holy Land made his plea during a peaceful demonstration Sunday, with about 1,000 followers, reported the Associated Press. He expressed his desire for peace, shared by the demonstrators, by planting an olive tree on the planned route for the barrier. Israel has been constructing the barrier, which it says is necessary to be safe from Palestinian attackers.
But the patriarch said the barrier serves no purpose. In some places, it was built into the West Bank to surround settlements, cutting several thousand Palestinians off from farmland or services. According to the AP, the patriarch said last Christmas the separation barrier turned Bethlehem into a "prison."
"This position and the confiscation of lands have no reason at all. [The barrier] doesn't benefit the security of either Israel or anybody else. Our prayers are for the removal of this physical wall currently under construction and the return of our lands and your lands to you," Archbishop Sabbah told the demonstrators, whom he urged to remain peaceful, reported the AP.
"Our hearts are filled with love, and no hatred for anybody. This peace will be possible regardless of the obstacles put between the people," he was quoted as saying.