Capital braces for Beit Yehonatan evacuation

E. J'lem home measured; occupants: Barkat's absence being exploited.

By ABE SELIG, JPOST.COM STAFF
April 28, 2010 02:50
1 minute read.
A patrol jeep near Beit Yehonatan in Jerusalem's S

silwan beit yehonatan jeep 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )

 
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The Jerusalem Municipality on Tuesday appeared to be preparing for the evacuation of Beit Yehonatan’s Jewish residents, as inspectors accompanied by security personnel arrived to take measurements at the structure in the mostly Arab southeast Silwan neighborhood.

Residents of the seven-story building, which is named for Jonathan Pollard and was built in 2004 with funds from the Ateret Cohanim organization, were told that the inspectors were indeed making preparations for the implementation of an outstanding court order to evacuate and seal the structure, as it was built without the proper permits.

The residents complained that inspectors refused to answer their questions or present them with relevant orders, and claimed that municipal legal adviser Yossi Havilio was exploiting the fact that Mayor Nir Barkat was abroad to carry out the court order without his consent.

However, Barkat’s office said the move was being undertaken with his full knowledge and in accordance with his commitment to implementing the court order.  In February, the planned distribution of evacuation orders at Beit Yehonatan was abruptly called off, as Jerusalem police and the municipality traded blame for what both said was an apparent breakdown in coordination.

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Attempts to stave off the execution of the court order have included an agreement in principal reached in discussions with municipal officials to seal off the top two floors of the structure, in return for the retroactive legalization of the remaining five. Although residents have petitioned the municipality to formalize the agreement, and Barkat has touted it as a possible solution, it has not materialized.

The building is home to eight families, and has also been at the center of conflict between Barkat and State Attorney Moshe Lador. In late January, Lador demanded that the mayor implement the order to evacuate and seal the building. Barkat refused.

Under increased pressure, the mayor announced in February that he would evacuate and seal the building, and then begin implementing outstanding demolition orders for more than 200 illegally built Arab homes in the neighborhood. In the meantime, implementation of the court order for Beit Yehonatan has continued to be delayed.

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

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