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Beit Yehonatan 'A Victory for Equality'

Land of Israel groups praise Beit Yehonatan decision as a 'victory for equality,' call to continue the trend.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 12/26/2010, 9:59 PM / Last Update: 12/26/2010, 10:08 PM

Flash 90

Groups supporting Jewish rights in the land of Israel praised Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat's decision regarding the Beit Yehonatan housing complex on Sunday. Barkat's decision to postpone the sealing of the stop stories of the building was a victory for the principle of equality, they said.

Deputy Mayor David Hadari, who has worked on behalf of the residents of Beit Yehonatan, said, “I am pleased that Jewish life will continue in Beit Yehonatan and in the Yemenite quarter that is now called Silwan. We will continue to build and settle in every part of the city, east and west.”

Regarding the legal status of the building, he said, “I am in favor of enforcing the law on all illegal buildings in the east of the city, not just on Beit Yehonatan.”

The Ichud Leumi (National Union) Knesset faction will hold its weekly meeting in Beit Yehonatan on Monday at 2:30 p.m. The party earlier joined residents of the building in filing suit against the city of Jerusalem for discrimination, over the city's singling out of one of the only Jewish-owned buildings in Shiloach (Silwan) for punishment over building code violations, while hundreds of similar violations in the neighborhood were ignored.

The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel termed Barkat's decision “a victory for the principle of equality before the law.” Legal Forum head Nachi Eyal, representing residents in their suit against the city, had warned, “Selective law enforcement does not create rule of law, it makes a laughingstock of the rulers.”

Regavim, a group which has fought illegal Arab construction on Jewish land, called on other cities to “follow the example set by the Jerusalem municipality and enforce the law equally on all.”

Barkat announced Sunday that the top floors of Beit Yehonatan would not be sealed immediately as previously planned. Instead, he said, the Jewish families living in the building will be allowed to remain, and building code violations will be dealt with under a new program which is to be implemented on all homes in the area, Jewish and Arab alike.

His decision came after the organization Ateret Cohanim threatened to enforce an order allowing it to expel an Arab family from a Yemenite synagogue in the area. The group allowed the Arab family to stay, leading Barkat to allow the Beit Yehonatan families to stay as well.