Beit Yehonatan
Beit Yehonatan file

A High Court judge said Thursday that a previous decision to evacuate and seal Beit Yehonatan in the City of David neighborhood will stand, and that four residents of the building whom the court in 2007 said had made illegal use of the building were subject to various penalties, including a fine and other legal steps.

Court judge Edna Arbel said that the four – Moshe and Sivan Cordova and Efraim and Miriam Friedler – had not made any new arguments, and that there was no reason to cancel the order to seal the building. Arbel also complained that the Jerusalem municipality, who has the responsibility of carrying out the court's order, had been dragging its feet for years on the matter. Arbel added that Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat's position – that he could not in good conscience seal Beit Yehonatan unless similar action were taken against illegal Arab building in the neighborhood – was untenable, and that he had no grounds to stand on.

Arbel added that the residents themselves had a responsibility to vacate the building, even if the city was not doing its job. As such, she said, they were not entitled to the protection of the court. “The court will not extend its help to those who violate its orders and decide the law for themselves.” This alone, she said, would be sufficient reason to reject their plea.

Beit Yehonatan is one of the few places in the City of David where Jews have been able to find a place to live. The neighborhood had, at least until 1948, a significant Jewish population – until they were forced to flee for their lives in the onslaught of Arab murderers during the War of Independence. Besides fighting the High Court's decision to vacate the building, residents have been forced to contend with an ongoing Arab terror campaign; in a typical incident, Arab youths hurled rocks and firebombs at the Beit Yehonatan building in mid-July. They were arrested by police, and their case is pending.

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