Reprieve for Beit Yehonatan - and for Arab Synagogue Squatters (INN) ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) 12/26/10)
INN} ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS
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Jews living in the six-story Beit Yehonatan apartment complex in
Shiloach (Silwan) in Jerusalem will be allowed to stay for the time
being, Mayor Nir Barkat announced Sunday. Barkat delayed the
execution of an order to seal off the top stories of the building.
Police had gathered earlier in the day and prepared to carry out the
The reprieve came after the 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. The order in question is
civil, not municipal, meaning Jerusalem city leaders would have had
little chance to block it.
On Sunday afternoon the group reached a compromise with city
officials, promising to allow the squatters to remain in the Ohel
Shalom synagogue if Jewish families may remain in Beit Yehonatan.
The families are expected to be allowed to remain until the
implementation of neighborhood-wide program to deal with widespread
illegal construction in the area. The program will legalize an
estimated 90% or more of buildings that currently lack permits, and
will allow buildings to reach a height of four stories instead of the
Buildings six stories tall or higher will be required to remove their
top floors under the new plan. Beit Yehonatan will be among 20
buildings that must lose their top stories in order to comply with
The Shiloach neighborhood, located next to Jerusalem´s Old City, was
once a Jewish neighborhood populated largely by Yemenite immigrants.
However, Jews were forced from that part of the city by Arab pogroms,
and in 1948 Jordan seized control of the neighborhood and allowed
Arab families to take over the remaining Jewish homes.
Shiloach came under Israeli control again when Jerusalem was reunited
in the Six Day War of 1967. Since then many Jewish families have
moved back in to the area, including the residents of Beit Yehonatan.
After Jews moved in to Beit Yehonatan city officials announced plans
to force the closure of the top four stories of the building,
claiming that the structure violated building code. Jews protested
and accused the city of discrimination, pointing out that hundreds of
Arab structures were left untouched despite similar violations of
The struggle appears to have ended for now, with Sunday´s compromise.
(© IsraelNN Syndications 12/26/10)
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