The residents of Beit Yehonatan – the 6-story Jewish building in the City of David, named for Jonathan Pollard – have filed suit in the Supreme Court, claiming that the decision to seal the building is discriminatory.
The building is located in the midst of a formerly Jewish neighborhood called Shiloach (Silwan), located just below the Old City of Jerusalem, that is now mostly Arab-populated but was Jewish until the British forced its residents to leave in the face of Arab violence . The zoning laws allow for buildings there to be no higher than two stories, but hundreds of Arab buildings – and Beit Yehonatan – were built higher. Though orders have not been issued against most of the structures, Beit Yehonatan has been singled out for special treatment by Jerusalem’s Legal Counsel, leading to a court order for the sealing of the building’s higher floors.
The building’s residents, together with the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel and Knesset Member Uri Ariel (National Union), claim in court that the sealing order discriminates against the residents of Beit Yehonatan in comparison to the other illegal buildings around it.
“Reviews” of many illegal Arab structures in the vicinity have been ordered, but no operative action or orders for sealing or demolition have been issued.
“On the one hand,” the petitioners maintain, “the Attorney General declares the importance of equality in law enforcement, while on the other hand, he issues operative orders only against one lone building… The only difference between Beit Yehonatan and the other hundreds of buildings constructed without permits is the nationality of its residents.”
In addition, the petitioners state, “the decision to seal the building was made based on wrong and unacceptable criteria.”