The East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan is facing a new crisis point.
According to a late-night report from the Silwan Information Center (Silwanic), posted on their website here, “Silwanic has been informed that the illegal settlement of Beit Yonatan in the Baten al-Hawa neighborhood of Silwan will be evicted at 9am either tomorrow [16 January] or [Monday] 17 January. Beit Yonatan is not the only illegally-built settlement in the area, it has stood at the heart of the settlement issue in Silwan, its continued existence a telling example of the double standards of the Jerusalem Municipality, who have issued hundreds of demolition orders to date to Palestinian homes on the strength of questionable licensing issues”.
We have previously reported on this matter on this blog, including here.
Late last week, Israel’s Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein — who has previously pressed Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to execute court orders requiring the eviction of several settler families from Beit Yonathan, and the sealing of the building which does not comply with Jerusalem municpal building codes — again called on Mayor Barkat to carry out the evacuation order.
YNet reported, here, that Weinstein hinted that the Mayor could be charged with violation of the law if he failed to act to enforce the court order. Weinstein reportedly stated that “the implementation of the order was ‘an obligation set by the court’.”
At the beginning of the new year (2011), Barkat linked the eviction and evacuation of Beit Yonathan with the the fate of the Abu Nab family, whose 60 members have been living for decades in a compound they built that includes a structure that formally served as a synagogue for Yeminite Jews in Silwan before the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 (when all Jews were evacuated from the area).
Barkat, who continues to want to implement an earlier plan he has proposed for the Silwan neighborhood that would reduce the number of pending Palestinian home demolitions [from something like 88 to something around 20] in exchange for retroactive “legalization” of all other structures there (including Beit Yonathan), did manage to temporarily persuaded the Aterit Cohanim settler organization to withdraw a civil suit they had filed to compel the eviction of the Abu Nab family.
YNet reported last week that “Despite a compromise proposed by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat the State insists on implementing the sealing order imposed on Beit Yonatan in east Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein sent a letter to Barkat Thursday stating that a date in the near future must be set for the implementation of the order”.
But, the Attorney General has apparently accepted the logic of the Mayor’s linkage of the fate of the two neighboring structures — one inhabited by East Jerusalem Palestinians, and the other one housing Israeli Jewish settler familes and their private (though state-salaried) security guards.
YNet reported that Weinstein added: ” ‘I have asked the enforcement elements to try and have the implementation of the order be performed at the same time another order is being carried out‘ … He was referring to the evacuation of Arab residents from the Abu Nab house which is adjacent to Beit Yonatan. He stressed that the sealing order must be implemented ‘without the intervention of unauthorized elements’ and noted that he has informed the political rank of this decision. Weinstein even hinted to Barkat that he should be careful for his actions over the Beit Yehonatan issue could come to criminal proceedings. He referred the Mayor to the Attorney General’s directive which stated that “an elected representative’s attempts to intervene in favor of one defendant or another in criminal proceedings carried out by the criminal prosecution has no place and is inappropriate. ‘These actions harm the independence of Israel’s criminal prosecution system and could harm the parity of the criminal process, coloring it with political opinions, if in essence, if outwardly and in certain cases, the actions themselves could become a felony. Last month Barkat prevented the evacuation of Beit Yonatan at the last minute after the Ateret Cohanim foundation lifted its demand to evacuate the residents of Abu Nab house which previously served as a synagogue. Barkat declared that should the foundation not agree to temporarily withdraw their demand he will evacuate both sites on the same day”.
Silwan organizer Adnan Gheith, who is also a Fatah activist, withdrew his appeal at the end of December — apparently with the support of the Fatah movement — to an Israeli military order banning him, or deporting him, for a period of four months from his home and from all of the “Greater Jerusalem Municipality”, and arrived in Ramallah this week.