State backs demand to seal Beit Yehonatan immediately

But state's representative rejects petitioners' demand to stop paying for security of Silwan building's residents.

April 29, 2010 20:07
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 state on Thursday told the High Court of Justice that it agreed with petitioners demanding that the Jerusalem Municipality immediately evacuate Beit Yehonatan, the illegal seven-story apartment building in the Silwan neighborhood, and seal it up.

In its response to the petition, the state’s representative, attorney Tadmor Etzion, rejected the petitioners’ demand to stop paying for the security of the building’s residents, saying their lives were in danger.

The petition was filed by the three members Meretz lawmakers – Haim Oron, Ilan Gilon and Nitzan Horowitz – and former Meretz MK Ran Cohen. It was aimed at state officials including the government, the prime minister and the minister of interior, the municipality and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and the occupants of the building.

In response to the state’s brief to the court, Barkat issued a statement saying he advocated a freeze on all punitive measures against all illegal buildings in Silwan. Barkat added that he believed the top two stories of Beit Yehonatan should be demolished because they exceed the building heights he proposes in a new plan for the neighborhood that has not yet been approved by the planning authorities.

But the state called for immediate action to enforce the judicial order.

The court order was issued by the local affairs court of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court and upheld in appeal hearings by the Jerusalem District Court and the Supreme Court.

“Once a court order, which was approved by the higher court echelons, has been issued, it must be carried out as quickly as possible,” Etzion wrote. “When the occupants of the building refused to uphold the order to seal the building, the local council, which was explicitly authorized to do so in the court verdict, must execute the order.”  

In his response, Barkat pointed out that there were 115 court orders regarding illegal construction in the mostly Arab neighborhood. “The state’s insistence on implementing only one judicial order out of 115 is inconsistent with the obligation to maintain uniform and equal treatment toward all members of the the public,” he said.

Nevertheless, Barkat added, “under protest,” the municipal authorities had taken measurements of Beit Yehonatan “in preparation for implementing the order to seal the building.”

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