J'lem mayor bows to pressure, vows to shutter Beit Yonatan
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat bowed to pressure from legal officials yesterday and said he would uphold the court order to evacuate and seal a residential building erected by nationalist Jews in the heart of an Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem.
In a letter to State Prosecutor Moshe Lador, Barkat pledged to enforce the court order to evacuate the structure, known as Beit Yonatan, though he added that he was doing so under protest. Barkat also wrote that the municipality would tear down some 200 Palestinian homes slated for demolition in East Jerusalem. He warned, however, that enforcing the court order fully is liable to trigger a violent response from the Palestinian community.
The Jewish-owned building, named for convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, lies in Silwan, an Arab part of East Jerusalem. A court ruling declared the home was built without the proper permits.
In his letter to Lador, Barkat said the court orders sabotaged a municipal plan to resolve the matter of illegal construction in East Jerusalem. The plan would have allowed the buildings and their residents to remain in place, he said.
Barkat also criticized the Jerusalem municipality's legal consultant, Yossi Havilio, who was the most vocal official in favor of enforcing the court orders.
Last week, Lador sent a letter to Barkat reprimanding him for his refusal to shutter Beit Yonatan.
"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."