EU 'concerned' by Israel's separation wall route at Walaja

00:00 Sep 2 2011 Al-Walajeh (Walaja)

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- EU representatives said Friday they were "deeply concerned" by the impact of Israel's separation barrier on the historic West Bank village Al-Walaja.

The 2,500-strong community lost an appeal to Israel's Supreme Court on Aug. 22, requesting the re-route of a portion of the wall they say cuts off the village from vital resources.

European Union missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah said in a statement that the barrier "will cut off much of the village's land, preventing many residents from accessing their land, including agricultural land."

The "humanitarian impact and political implications" of the route are concerning, the missions said, referring to its divergence from the 1948 armistice or "Green" line in order to annex settlements Gilo and Har Gilo to Israel.

When finished, the wall "will completely encircle Al-Walaja, leaving a single access road connecting the village with the rest of the West Bank."

The missions "reiterate that the barrier is illegal under international law wherever built on occupied land," the statement said.

Walaja was, in 1948, the second largest land area after Jerusalem but was cut down to one third the size when Israel declared statehood that year.

Its border location has located the village at a strategic point for Israel's wall construction.

As well as mounting legal challenges to the route, residents hold regular demonstrations against the impact of the wall.
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