(photo credit: Courtesy)
A group of Jewish families ordered to evacuate an apartment building in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan by next month will appeal the court ruling, their attorney said on Sunday.
On February 11, the court ordered eight families to move out since no construction permit was ever issued for the seven-story building. One of the families has since left.
Judge Eliahu Zimra of the Jerusalem Court of Municipal Affairs had ordered the residents to leave by April 15.
The appeal is expected to indefinitely delay the eviction.
The residents moved into the building under heavy police guard three years ago, after it was bought from an Arab resident by a private Jewish donor working with Ateret Cohanim, an Israeli organization that seeks to settle Jews throughout east Jerusalem.
While the neighborhood is now overwhelmingly Arab, nearly 1,000 Jews from Yemen lived in the area for a half a century, from the 1880s until they were driven out by Arab rioters in 1938, the group said.
Ateret Cohanim spokesman Daniel Luria said the group hoped to double the number of Jewish families living in the neighborhood.
He condemned last month's court decision as "completely discriminatory" against Jews, and blasted the municipality for overlooking "well-known and predominantly illegal" Arab building there.
The case gained traction after a Jerusalem city councilman who opposes the presence of Jews in east Jerusalem pressed the municipality to take legal action against the Jewish families.
"The case shows that the law also works against the stronger party, even if they have the support of governmental bodies," Meretz city councilman Pepe Alalo said.
More than a dozen small Jewish enclaves exist or are under construction in or near Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, where some 1,000 Jewish residents now live.