Prosecutor to Jerusalem Mayor: Evict Settlers From Arab Neighborhood

Jerusalem mayor refuses to follow court order to evacuate Jews from Beit Yonatan in East Jerusalem.

State Prosecutor Moshe Lador sent a letter to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Thursday reprimanding him for his refusal to evacuate Jewish residents of an illegally constructed building in East Jerusalem's predominantly Arab Silwan neighborhood.

"I was sorry to receive your letter and to hear that even now Jerusalem has not yet made sure to adhere to court orders and has not sealed the building," Lador wrote in the letter.

"Acceptance of the situation in which court orders are not carried out expresses a biting failure," Lador said, adding that "Israel is a law abiding country, and in lawful countries court orders must be carried out."

Barkat has gone on the offensive against the municipal legal system, state prosecutor and the outgoing attorney general, Menachem Mazuz, following Mazuz's order to the police to immediately evict the Jews living in Beit Yonatan.

Mazuz's order, which follows a court decision, came in a letter directing Police Commissioner David Cohen to evacuate the residents of Beit Yonatan, but Jerusalem city manager Yair Ma'ayan announced that the municipality did not intend to have the order enforced.

The building in question was built more than five years ago by the Jewish nationalist organization Ateret Cohanim without a permit. Barkat has sought legal approval for four floors of the seven-story building, which is currently home to eight Jewish families.

Three weeks ago, State Prosecutor Moshe Lador reprimanded Barkat on the matter, writing that "all possible lines were already crossed a long time ago with regard to honoring and obeying court orders."

Lador noted that any further delay in carrying out the court order, which was issued in July 2008, "constitutes a serious blow to the values of the rule of law, which are above and beyond any specific significance of the continued illegal use of the building."