City Attorney to Mayor: Evacuate East Jerusalem Jewish Home

Yosef Havilio: Evacuation and closure order received in July 2008 has not yet been carried out.

The Jerusalem Municipality's legal adviser has informed Mayor Nir Barkat and District Police Commissioner Aharon Franco that they must immediately implement the Supreme Court order to evacuate and close down Beit Yehonatan in East Jerusalem's Silwan neighborhood.

Legal adviser Yosef Havilio's position contradicts statements made by the mayor, and published in Haaretz Wednesday, claiming that the carrying out of the evacuation will be delayed because "legal alternatives are being evaluated by the owners and the structure and the courts."

Following a demand by Deputy Mayor David Hadari of the National Religious Party to condition the evacuation and closure of the building on the carrying out of an order to raze a Palestinian structure, Havilio wrote that according to the Supreme Court ruling, when the court demands the execution of an order, the municipality must implement it as soon as possible.

"Unfortunately the evacuation and closure order received final approval by the court in July 2008, and has not yet been carried out, in spite of repeated appeals by me to the relevant people," Havilio wrote.

The legal counselor said that the delay is a serious violation since it involves a structure that has been in place for seven years, without permits and contrary to the area blueprint "and under such circumstances it is a priority for the public interest to implement the order and enforce the law."

Havilio informed Hadari of his opinion rejecting his request. He also protested the fact that an elected official contacted the municipality director-general about the matter, noting that this behavior contradicted specific instructions of the attorney general.

"Unfortunately, on this matter there have been, and continue to be, efforts by various elements, including elected officials, to influence on prevent or reject the enforcement of the warrant," Havilio said.

The legal counselor also rejected claims of alleged discrimination against Jews regarding enforcement of the law regarding planning and construction in Jerusalem. He said that since the warrant was issued against Beit Yehonatan, the municipality has carried out dozens of warrants for razing illegal structures throughout the city, including in Silwan.

"Under such circumstances it is certainly impossible to argue that the enforcement of the warrant against Beit Yehonatan constitutes discrimination or unfairness," Havilio wrote.

A police representative told Haaretz yesterday that immediately after they receive the appropriate request from the municipality, they will assist crews in implementing the order, but said that so far no such request has been made.

Meretz Deputy Mayor Yosef Alalu said yesterday that he is convinced the mayor will adhere to Havilio's decision and will act to evacuate and seal the house. He also rejected the claims of alleged discrimination against Jews regarding planning and construction laws.

"Everyone knows that for every balcony destroyed in the western part of the city, a number of homes are razed in the East," Alalu said.