JERUSALEM (JTA) — Jerusalem’s mayor said he would evacuate a Jewish building in eastern Jerusalem and also raze 200 Palestinian homes.
Nir Barkat said in a letter sent late Wednesday to state Prosecutor Moshe Lador that he would execute the sealing and demolition orders pending against Beit Yonatan in the Arab village of Silwan. The seven-story building, which is home to eight Jewish families, was built without the proper permits, a Jerusalem court found.
Barkat said he would fulfill the court orders "under most vigorous protest and harsh criticism of the plan," according to the Mayor’s Office.
Lador had sent a letter last week to Barkat reprimanding him for refusing to evacuate Beit Yonatan, which is named in honor of convicted American spy for Israel Jonathan Pollard. The building was built five years ago by the rightist organization Ateret Cohanim.
The Barkat letter also said that the municipality would destroy 70 illegally built Palestinian structures in Silwan in the interest of enforcing the rule of law uniformly, even though the municipality was in the process of creating a plan to deal with illegal construction in Silwan that included grandfathering in Beit Yonatan and the Palestinian homes.
The plan also was to allow for adding stories to built structures, which would add about 1,000 housing units for Palestinians in eastern Jerusalem.
Barkat also said in his letter, according to his office, that "the municipality will start to enforce the principle of the rule of law in the spirit of a uniform enforcement policy and without prejudice."