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Agreement Not to Evict Illegal Arabs Before Bibi-Obama Talks

The government convinces nationalists to call off their planned July 4 eviction of illegal Arab residents the eve of Netanyahu’s visit to Obama.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 7/3/2010, 11:56 PM

Israel news photo

The government, citing potential violence, has convinced nationalists to call off their planned July 4 eviction of illegal Arab residents from a Jerusalem home on the eve of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit to U.S. President Barack Obama this week.

Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch (Yisrael Beiteinu) told Ateret Cohanim officials that evacuating the Arabs from the Jewish-owned Silwan Valley building could trigger violent Arab protests.

Jewish activists had scheduled to use private guards to evict the Arab squatters on Sunday, which is Independence Day in the United States. President Obama is scheduled to host Prime Minister Netanyahu later this week to discuss the state of talks with the Palestinian Authority and the Iranian nuclear threat. The PA has demanded sovereignty over the Silwan Valley, as well as other large areas of Jerusalem where it wants to establish a capital of a new Arab country. 

National Union Knesset Member Uri Ariel accepted the Public Security Minister’s argument that Israel has promised to engage in any actions that would provoke disturbances during the visit to the White House. "I urge all involved parties to calm tensions,” Aharonovitch said.

Four Arab families Arab live in the old Yemenite Synagogue, near two other Jewish-owned buildings where Jews lives. The building was built in 1890 by the Yemenite Jewish community, which was forced to abandon it in the late 1930s because of Arab pogroms.

In late 2008, a court ruling was issued ordering the police to cooperate in evicting the Arab squatters, and to raze the additional rooms built there illegally over the years. “The Ateret Cohanim Association said several weeks ago, “Since then the police have done nothing, and so if we have no choice; we’ll do it ourselves."