Ronen Medzini
June 23, 2010 - 12:00am,7340,L-3909629,00.html

"If police do not evacuate the Heichal Shlomo Synagogue of its squatters, we will do it ourselves on July 4," the residents of Beit Yehonatan in the Silwan neighborhood of east Jerusalem threatened on Wednesday.

According to them, the State is exercising "discrimination and political persecution" against them by placing Beit Yehonatan on the list of properties destined for evacuation, while Arab houses they claim were built illegally are not included on the list.

"If this isn't political persecution, what is?" said a member of the Jewish residency. "Beit Yehonatan was placed on the list first, while orders against dozens of other houses have not been carried out at all."

Three Arab families, comprised of about 40 people total, are currently living in the old synagogue in the Yemenite village. This is one of many properties managed by the non-profit organization, Ateret Cohanim, which claims Jewish ownership of the sites.

The synagogue is located about 150 meters (yards) from Beit Yehonatan. The Jewish residency in Silwan is outraged by the eviction order issued against Jewish house, while, they claim, a blind eye is turned to the laws broken by Arabs in the neighborhood.

"We intend to conduct an evacuation ourselves on July 4," said MK Uri Ariel (National Union). "We will return the property back to its owners. The synagogue deserves to be a synagogue."

"The discrimination that exists surrounding everything related to the enforcement policy imposed by the State and the Jerusalem Prosecution seems bizarre to us," said a resident of the Yemenite village in Silwan.

"Why is the State insisting on Beit Yehonatan even though a compromise offer has been offered, and on the other hand, the same local authority is not implementing a judicial order unequivocally ordered in accordance with the law to evacuate the Arab families that invaded the synagogue owned by Jews?"

He added, "The justice minister has not provided a clear response to the question of how many standing and conditional orders against Arabs exist. On the other hand, he has said that there is one order against Jews – and this is Beit Yehonatan."

Beit Yehonata, which the Jews populated in 2007, is seven stories high and is located in the heart of the Silwan neighborhood. According to the building and planning policy for the site, building beyond two stories is prohibited. As such, the building has been deemed illegal and has been issued with an evacuation and sealing order.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017