Residents submit new petition to save Beit Yehonatan

Petition is latest attempt to dodge A-G’s decision to seal building, requests all action against building be halted while court considers action.

311_Silwan houses (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
311_Silwan houses
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The residents of Beit Yehonatan filed a petition with the Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday in the latest attempt to dodge the Attorney General’s decision to seal the building. The petition also requested that all action against the building be halted while the courts consider the petition.
On November 17, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein reiterated his order to evacuate and seal the seven-story illegal building “at an early date,” preferably by the end of 2010. Mayor Nir Barkat has repeatedly tried to find ways to avoid carrying out the order, including plans to retroactively legalize construction in Silwan, including thousands of Arab buildings and the Beit Yehonatan building.
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The petition attacks the attorney general's discrimination and decision to seal Beit Yehonatan before dealing with other illegal structures which have had demolition orders against them fore longer periods of time. “On one side, the attorney general declares the importance of enforcing equality, and on the other side orders operations against one sole building,” the petition states.
The heavily-fortified Beit Yehonatan is home to seven Jewish families, who require armored transports to travel to and from their home in the Arab neighborhood of Silwan. The area, which they call Kfar Shiloah, was home to a Yeminite community between 1882 to 1938. Like tens of thousands of buildings in east Jerusalem and the Silwan neighborhood, the building was constructed illegally and without the necessary permits. The Jerusalem Magistrate Court ruled that it should be sealed and evacuated in 2007, and the residents’ appeals to the District and Supreme Courts were unsuccessful.
Most recently, the Supreme Court found two technicalities that enable the residents to resubmit an appeal to the District Court, said Shmuel Klien, the spokesman for the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, which is representing the residents.
“This is an injustice that screams to the heavens,” said Danny Luria, the spokesman for Ateret Cohanim, an organization that supports the Jewish families in Beit Yehonatan. He said the residents plan to appeal to “every court possible” to protest the discrimination and selectivity of enforcing the law on one specific building when it is surrounded by hundreds of illegal structures.
The municipality refused the comment on the issue. Police also denied rumors that they planned to evacuate the building within eight days, before the end of the year.