J'lem counsel rejects Barkat’s Silwan demolition ultimatum

Letter calls mayor's plan to evacuate and seal Jewish-owned Beit Yehonatan in Silwan, demolish more than 200 Arab-owned homes into question.

February 8, 2010 02:06
2 minute read.
J'lem counsel rejects Barkat’s Silwan demolition ultimatum

silwan house demolition 248.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])


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Jerusalem city attorney Yossi Havilio on Friday fired a letter to State Prosecutor Moshe Lador, in which he called into question the details of Mayor Nir Barkat’s plan to evacuate and seal Jewish-owned Beit Yehonatan in Silwan, while also demolishing more than 200 Arab-owned homes in the area.

According to Havilio’s letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, the city attorney wrote that after examining Jerusalem Municipality data from December, he had found only 40 valid demolition or evacuation orders in Jerusalem that had yet to be executed, as opposed to the 200 cited by Barkat.

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Additionally, Havilio wrote, 13 of those orders were issued for buildings located in west Jerusalem, not in Silwan.

Among the 40 valid orders, Havilio wrote that the one concerning Beit Yehonatan was one of the oldest.

He rejected a claim made by Barkat last week that the enforcement of the evacuation order at the seven-story structure in the predominately Arab neighborhood was discriminatory, writing, “I protest this claim... In fact, not carrying out the court order would be discriminatory.

“Since the court order [to evacuate and seal Beit Yehonatan] was issued,” Havilio wrote, “146 similar orders have been carried out in Jerusalem, some of them in Silwan.”

Barkat had protested the court order to evacuate Beit Yehonatan, even as he wrote to Lador last Wednesday notifying the state attorney of his intention to comply.

“I am shouting in your ears that the enforcement policy in the city of Jerusalem as regards Beit Yehonatan is discriminatory, selective and lacks any real justification, and the explanations that have been provided thus far are [insufficient],” Barkat’s response to Lador read.

Barkat had also stressed the need for an equal application of the law, and that if Beit Yehonatan was to be evacuated and sealed, similar orders issued for Arab-owned properties had to be upheld as well.

Nonetheless, Havilio’s letter on Friday also called into question the location of some of those structures named in demolition orders, noting that many of them were not within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries.

“After looking over the list, I noticed that some of the orders don’t apply to Jerusalem at all, but to Beit Shemesh, Bar Giora, Ora, Givat Ye’arim, Kibbutz Ramat Rachel, Sedot Micha, among others,” the letter read.

Havilio added that he had checked these findings with a number of city officials, including the municipality’s chief engineer, the head of the construction department, the demolition coordinator, the city’s deputy legal adviser, and the city prosecutor.

Havilio maintained that he had also asked the city officials about a portion of Barkat’s letter stating that the Jerusalem District Planning Commission had allegedly instructed the Jerusalem Municipality to implement 80 eviction or demolition orders last October and 217 during September.

“But all of them told me that they did not recognize the lists that were attached to the mayor’s letter, and that the files detailed there were not transferred to the Jerusalem Municipality or the local planning and construction committee,” Havilio wrote.

The Jerusalem Municipality did not respond to further attempts to clarify the matter on Sunday.

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