The internal strife at the Jerusalem Municipality over the Jewish structure known as Beit Yehonatan in the Silwan neighborhood deepens. The external attorney appointed by Mayor Nir Barkat, and the city's legal counsel Attorney Yossi Havilio, filed two separate and contrasting responses to the district court, which discussed a petition filed by residents of the building requesting an injunction be issued against the sealing and evacuation order against the building.
Both parties said they represent the Jerusalem Municipality and the Central Committee for Planning and Construction, while one lawyer demanded the eviction and sealing order be executed immediately and the other asked the judges take into account the mayor's construction plan.
The affair began some two months ago, when Ynet reported on Barkat's plans to hire an external lawyer, following the differences of opinion between himself and Havilio. The city's counsel criticized Barkat and hinted that his conduct was in violation of the law. Havilio received the support of former Attorney General Menachem Mazuz and State Prosecutor Moshe Lador.
"It should be noted that the mayor and the respondents' stance is that executing the (sealing and evacuation) order is an un-egalitarian and flawed move. Nonetheless, any court ruling on the sealing of Beit Yehonatan will be honored in full – despite the fact that carrying out this order while dozens of demolition orders against Arab houses remain unenforced raises concerns of discriminatory enforcement," Barkat's attorney, Shahar Ben-Ami wrote.
Meanwhile, also responding to the court on behalf of the Jerusalem Municipality, Havilio slammed the city's failure to carry out the sealing and evacuation order. "We object to any request for any delay in executing the sealing and evacuation order against Beit Yehonatan. All the claims raised in the petition, including the option of granting authorization or discriminatory enforcement, have already been discussed and rejected in court – as in the case of requests to delay its execution."
Havilio went on the criticize Barkat and the inhabitants of the building: "The court cannot be rewarding criminals, and the petitioners at this time are criminals who are using the building against an order. There is no good faith in the fact that the court order has not been implemented, only because of illegal political involvement."
The Jerusalem Municipality said in response: "The lack of effective enforcement stems from a systematic fault on the part of all elements involved, including the conduct of the city's legal counsel, who does not have all the facts on what is happening in the field, and the mayor is not satisfied with his handling of the complex legal challenges that Jerusalem is faced with. The city is working to present the facts and enlighten the court using someone who is not related to these failures."