Advisor: J'lem mayor has no authority to demolish Arab homes
Jerusalem Municipality's legal advisor continues to fight mayor on Beit Yehonatan affair. Ynet learns advisor Yossi Havilio sends letter to prosecutor stating that number of demolition orders against 200 Arab houses not in city's jurisdiction
After Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat informed State Prosecutor Moshe Lador that he plans to implement the sealing order for the disputed Beit Yehonatan in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, and implement demolition orders against 200 illegal structures built by Arabs in the area, Ynet has learned that his legal counsel continues to fight him in the mater.
Jerusalem Municipality's legal advisor Attorney Yossi Havilio sent a letter to the State Prosecutor's Office's department for enforcing land laws and wrote that according to an examination he carried out, which was based on data from the construction supervision department from last December, there are some 40 valid orders, 13 of which were issued against structures in the western part of the city.
The legal advisor stressed that of all the orders, the one calling for the sealing off of Beit Yehonatan is one of the oldest. According to Havilio, the additional 200 demolition orders brought up by Barkat refer in part to buildings that are not even included in Jerusalem's jurisdiction.
"From an initial glance I noticed that part of the orders apply to Beit Shemesh, Bar Giora, Ora, Givat Ye'arim, Kibbutz Ramat Rachel, Sdot Micha, and more," the letter read.
Havilio added that he checked these findings with a number of city officials, including the city's engineer, head of the construction supervision department, the demolition coordinator, the city's deputy legal advisor, and the city's head prosecutor.
He said, "They all told me that they had no knowledge of the lists that were attached to the mayor's letter stating that the district committee allegedly instructed the Jerusalem Municipality to implement 80 orders last October and 217 in the prior month, and that the files detailed there were not transferred to the Jerusalem Municipality or the local committee for planning and construction."
The legal advisor rejected the claim made by Barkat last week in which he criticized the "discriminatory enforcement" which he said could be seen in pressure to seal off Beit Yehonatan as opposed to other houses in the neighborhood.
Havilio wrote that this claim "was discussed in detail and rejected by the courts". He added, "Failure to implement the orders on Beit Yehonatan is actually discriminatory, ever since these orders were issued, 146 orders were implemented in Jerusalem, some of them in the Silwan area."
Jerusalem Municipality opposition head Meir Turgeman filed a complaint against the mayor several weeks ago over his failure to implement the order. "I demand the Jerusalem mayor act in accordance to the law and according to what Havilio says and stop looking for trees to hang on," Turgeman said.
He stressed: "Places against which demolition orders have been issued should be demolished, and places that have no orders against them should be left alone. There is no discrimination, contrary to the mayor's claims. There should be one law for all, both for Jews and for Arabs."
Peace Now head Yariv Oppenheimer told Ynet that Barkat's desire to demolish Arab houses stems from the need for revenge of the "loss" he suffered in the struggle for Beit Yehonatan.
"Nir Barkat lives in another reality," Oppenheimer said, "In an affidavit to the state prosecutors he continues to distort facts and present false data. The Jerusalem mayor is acting like the last of the Hilltop Youths and is defending lawbreakers in unconventional ways. Things are being said and done with the goal of getting back at the Arab population."