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Beit Yehonatan Residents Offer Compromise

The residents of the Beit Yehonatan building in the Shiloach (Silwan) neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem are proposing a compromise.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 3/4/2010, 7:08 PM / Last Update: 3/4/2010, 8:04 PM

The residents of the Beit Yehonatan building in the Shiloach (Silwan) neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem are proposing a compromise: They are willing to seal up or take down the contested floors.

The residents are asking for a court-approved delay in the demolition orders for Beit Yehonatan, a delay of the type that is often given in cases of illegal construction. However, in the knowledge that in any event, the building’s top floors will not be approved, and in order to obtain the desired delay, the residents are offering to seal up the top floors on their own.

Attorney Yechiel Gutman of Jerusalem, who is representing the residents, explained to Israel National News on Thursday: “A new zoning plan will apparently very soon take effect, allowing buildings in the neighborhood to reach a height of four stories. Beit Yehonatan is higher than that, though it’s hard to measure precisely because it is built in half-stories. In any event, we are showing good faith by offering to seal up the floors that will certainly not be approved.”

It is hoped that this will supply the State Prosecution, which has ordered the immediate sealing or razing of the building, with a way to save face and will enable the retroactive approval process for the entire neighborhood to include Beit Yehonatan. Hundreds of illegal Arab structures are estimated to have been built in the neighborhood in recent years.

“The ball is now in the court of State Prosecutor Moshe Lador,” Gutman said, “and I hope he will act with the necessary responsibility and sensitivity in this explosive area.”

Beit Yehonatan is named for Jonathan Pollard, now in his 25th year of imprisonment in the United States for having supplied classified information to U.S.-ally Israel.

Where's the Justice?
Asked how the Prosecution can legally justify its demand for the demolition of the one Jewish building in the area when hundreds of Arab buildings are left standing, Gutman explained, “This was precisely the subject of our court case for three years, from 2006 until 2009. But we lost; the court did not accept our claim that this was unjust, and instead accepted the Prosecution’s position that the city was unable to raze all the buildings at once."

INN: "In other words, it had to start somewhere, so it 'just happened' to start with Beit Yehonatan..."

Gutman: "Correct. In fact, some 20 demolition orders have been issued since then against Arab buildings in the area…”

Related News:
This past Sunday night, one or more unknown Arabs opened fire at a Jewish security vehicle near Beit Yehonatan. One guard was lightly wounded in his foot, and was evacuated to the Shaarei Zedek Medical Center. Six bullets hit his car; the attacker or attackers have not yet been found.