Beit Yehonatan sealing to end

Silwan house residents unworried about court-ordered evacuation.

311_Silwan houses (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
311_Silwan houses
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
A month’s delay of the court-ordered evacuation and sealing of Beit Yehonatan ends on Friday, but sources close to the Jewish residents of the seven-story home in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday they did not believe the order was any closer to being carried out now than it was at the end of June.
On June 30, the Jerusalem District Court rejected an appeal filed by residents of Beit Yehonatan that would have postponed the court order by an unspecified amount of time.
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However, in the same hearing, residents were granted a 30-day reprieve regarding the matter.
Since then, Beit Yehonatan’s residents and their supporters have worked tirelessly to show that similar court orders, issued against Arab-owned structures built without the proper permits inside the east Jerusalem neighborhood, have yet to be carried out, and in some cases, even pre-date the court order that was issued against Beit Yehonatan.
Residents now say that Beit Yehonatan is “at the bottom” of a list of similar housing violations in the east Jerusalem neighborhood, and that if the municipality were to go through with the court order against the Jewish-owned home, it would first have to deal with hundreds of similar, Arab-owned properties in the neighborhood.
“Theoretically, the outstanding court order to seal building is standing, and theoretically, the municipality, backed by the police could seal the building,” said Danny Luria, a spokesman for the Ateret Cohanim organization, which works towards reestablishing Jewish life in Jerusalem.
“But Beit Yehonatan is down a long list of Arab buildings that need to be dealt with first,” he added.
“Plus, next week Ramadan begins, and so demolitions, and actions that might ‘disturb the peace’ in primarily Arab neighborhoods tend not to take place [during that time].”
Luria added that “in the meantime, there has been no official word from the municipality that [the evacuation and sealing of Beit Yehonatan] is on the top of the list.
“They have received a report from police that this is not something that can happen in the immediate future. Police have voiced their concerns over the security situation in the area, and that squatting in the building, if it were to be evicted, together with granting security to the lone family that would remain in the adjacent Beit Hadvash building, would all complicate matters there.
“They’re not running forward to do what is necessary – according to what [municipal legal adviser Yossi] Havilio wants – and according to what I understand, neither is the mayor,” he said. “Everyone is basically saying that it’s not going to happen.”
Luria’s comments were at least partially echoed from an unlikely source – Orly Noy of the Jerusalem-based NGO Ir Amim – which has in the past made clear its opposition to what the organization has labeled “ideological Jewish settlers in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods in east Jerusalem.”
“[The residents] will find another excuse as to why not to evict them,” Noy said on Sunday.
“Even though the final ruling was given, and the residents have no grounds for another appeal, my guess is that they will figure out another way to postpone this,” she continued.
“I don’t see it happening in the coming days,” she added.