Outside Beit Yehonatan
Israel news photo: Flash 90
Attorney General Yehudah Weinstein has fired off a letter to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat pointedly demanding that he take steps to immediately seal Beit Yehonatan - a building in Jerusalem's Shiloach (Silwan) neighborhood in which Jewish families reside.
The Attorney General hinted that he would like to see another home in the same vicinity sealed or razed along with Beit Yehonatan. Mayor Barkat - and the proponents of Beit Yehonatan - have said that it would mock justice to seal only the home owned by Jews, and not take similar steps against hundreds of illegal Arab-owned homes in the same neighborhood.
Weinstein told Barkat that he had no right to put off the execution of the court order in the matter. "Carrying out the order to evict the residents and seal Beit Yehonatan is an obligation that the court has determined and redetermined in a substantial number of decisions," he wrote. "Carrying out the order is not up to your judgment as Mayor of Jerusalem, and once it was found that the case does not conform to criteria for postponement of execution, is not longer up to my judgment as head of the enforcement system in Israel."
"I agree that enforcement of the law does not begin and end with eviction of the residents and the sealing of Beit Yehonatan, but also relates to other orders," he added. "That is why I have asked the enforcement arms to make an effort to have the execution of the said order carried out together with the execution of another order."
"A near date needs to be determined for the execution of the order," Weinstein stressed.
The Jerusalem municipality issued a slightly vague statement Thursday evening in response, saying that the city and Mayor Barkat "honor the decisions of the court and the guidance of the attorney general" as they relate to the sealing of Beit Yehonatan. The statement continued, "Barkat has instructed the municipality professionals dealing with the case to continue to act according to the law, city guidelines and the instructions of the attorney general."
In late December, Jewish organization Ateret Cohanim threatened
that if city officials sealed Beit Yehonatan, Ateret Cohanim would seek to enforce an order to expel Arab squatters from a Yemenite synagogue in the same neighborhood. Barkat and Ateret Cohanim then reached a compromise according to which neither structure would have its residents evicted. It appears Weinstein is displeased with this compromise.
Beit Yehonatan is named for Jonathan Pollard, who was jailed in the U.S. 25 years ago after being convicted of spying for Israel.