(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Hours after right-wing MKs accused the legal system of discrimination in its implementation of demolition orders in the capital’s southeastern Silwan neighborhood, Committee on the Rights of the Child chairman Danny Danon (Likud) announced to the panel on Monday evening that he would soon hold a hearing at the site of a Jewish-owned building there.
Shortly before Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu departed for a meeting with US President Barack Obama – for whom Jewish building in Jerusalem neighborhoods acquired in the Six Day War has been a sensitive issue – Danon announced that his committee “will be meeting with residents and witnessing firsthand how the worsening security situation is affecting the well-being of the neighborhood’s youngsters.”
The committee will hold the hearing at Beit Yehonatan, a seven-story structure inhabited by a number of Jewish families.
“The Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem are often the subject of high-level diplomatic discussion, but it is often forgotten that we are dealing with the lives of regular people who are trying to lead normal lives,” Danon said. “We will hear from the residents of this neighborhood about the difficulties they must deal with on a daily basis.”
Before Danon’s announcement, a number of other lawmakers from the Right sponsored a debate in the Knesset’s Interior Committee on “selective enforcement of demolition orders” in the neighborhood, which forms part of what negotiators have termed the “Holy Basin” surrounding the Old City.
Dozens of Arab homes have been built in the area illegally – but the legal system, they complained, has unfairly targeted Jewish sites such as Beit Yehonatan.
Justice Ministry representatives said during the Committee on the Rights of the Child meeting that they could not say how many demolition orders had been issued by the courts since the neighborhood came under Israeli jurisdiction in 1967.
MK Arye Eldad (National Union) said that he had easily compiled such a
list, and thus that any testimony that such a list could not be compiled
was false. “The prosecution authorities are guilty of selective
enforcement but are not embarrassed to demand, in the name of the law,
the demolition of Beit Yehonatan,” he said.
And on Sunday, the Jerusalem Local Planning Council pulled from its
agenda a vote to approve some 60 residences in the northern Pisgat Ze’ev
neighborhood, a Jewish neighborhood with around 50,000 people built
beyond the Green Line starting in 1982.
Although no reason was given for the delay in the vote, observers
suggested that it was designed to prevent confrontations with the
American administration during the Netanyahu’s visit