Beit Yehonatan 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Supreme Court rejected on Thursday a petition to retry four people convicted
of illegal construction in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of
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Justice Edna Arbel slammed petitioners Moshe and Sivan Cordova
and Ephraim and Miriam Friedler for what she said was their ‘lack of integrity’
in appealing to the Supreme Court after disobeying previous court orders to seal
the illegal building.
The seven-story apartment building, named Beit
Yehonatan after convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, was constructed in 2004 by the
settlement group Ateret Cohanim.
Despite court injunctions and orders by
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein to seal Beit Yehonatan, several Jewish
families still live in the building.
“The petitioners continue to take
the law into their own hands and continue to violate court orders... to seal
entrances to [Beit Yehonatan],” Arbel said. “The behavior of the petitioners in
this matter shows that they do not accept the court’s authority, and have acted
thus over a long period of time.”
This is the second time the four
petitioners have asked for a retrial of their 2007 conviction for illegal
The four first appealed to the court in 2008, arguing that
enforcement procedures taken against them to evict them from Beit Yehonatan were
discriminatory and selective against them as Jews.
They claimed that Arab
residents of Silwan had not been punished for illegal construction.
this latest petition, the four claimed to have new evidence proving that law
enforcement authorities had acted in a discriminatory manner and that the
evictions from Beit Yehonatan were carried out for political reasons against
Jewish settlers in Silwan.
They also pointed to statements made by
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat as evidence of what they claimed to be “selective
enforcement” of the law regarding construction in Silwan.
evidence presented by the four petitioners was a response by the deputy
attorney-general in 2010 regarding 12 buildings cited in the original trial as
being built without permits by Arab residents of Silwan.
response, the deputy attorney-general had noted that city inspectors had only
visited Silwan once in a sixmonth period.
The four petitioners argued
this was evidence that no action was taken against illegal construction in
Silwan by Arab residents.
However, in ruling that no retrial would take
place, Arbel dismissed the petitioner’s arguments and accepted the state’s claim
that the deteriorating security situation had deterred city inspectors from
making more visits to Silwan.
Arbel also added that the petitioners had
failed to demonstrated that the new evidence they provided would make a
difference in the outcome of the case.
“The court ruled that the decision
to indict the petitioners was not connected with any extraneous considerations
relating to their national identity,” said Arbel. “The proceedings against them
were consistent with the policies laid down by the [Jerusalem] Municipality
regarding zoning and construction offenses.”