Jerusalem’s legal adviser resigns

After 10 years, attorney Yossi Havilio sends letter to Mayor Nir Barkat announcing he’ll step down at end of current term.

By MELANIE LIDMAN
September 8, 2010 04:56
1 minute read.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

Barkat big face 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

After 10 years as the city of Jerusalem’s legal adviser, attorney Yossi Havilio sent a letter to Mayor Nir Barkat Tuesday announcing that he’ll step down at the end of his current term in March 2011.

The terse resignation letter represented the end of a decade-long struggle that saw Havilio frequently at odds with both Barkat and his predecessor, Uri Lupolianski. A municipal spokesperson said only that Havilio’s letter of resignation had been accepted.

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Recently, the most vocal disagreement between Havilio and Barkat was over Beit Yehonatan, a building in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan inhabited by Jewish families. Havilio denounced the city’s failure to adhere to a court order that called for the building to be evacuated and sealed. For this issue, Barkat had used an outside attorney to represent the city.

“Every time Havilio handed down a legal decision that didn’t agree with Barkat’s plans, Barkat would go and request a decision from a private lawyer,” said city council member Meir Margalit, from the opposition Meretz party.

Margalit added that he did not consider himself a Havilio “groupie,” but said Barkat had “behaved like a dictator.”

While the past two years have been anything but a honeymoon for Havilio, his recent disagreements at Kikar Safra were nothing new. He became something of a hero to the gay community when he argued with Lupolianski in favor of a gay pride parade in Jerusalem, and in 2006, Lupolianski tried to fire him with help from councilors from Shas. Ironically, Lupolianski’s efforts to fire Havilio were stopped by Barkat when he was opposition leader.

“During Lupo’s term, when he tried to push [Havilio] away, Barkat came to [Havilio’s] defense,” Margalit said, using the former mayor’s nickname. “But suddenly Barkat is the mayor, and the way Barkat is behaving toward him is worse than the way Lupo behaved.”

Earlier this year, Havilio was recognized by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel for his “consistent and courageous action to strengthen the rule of law,” Ynet reported.


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