JERUSALEM (JTA) – Jerusalem’s mayor delayed the eviction of Jewish residents of an eastern Jerusalem building after settlers withdrew a demand to evict Palestinians from a building claimed by Jews.
The mayor’s decision came Sunday night, hours after Israel’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal to postpone the eviction of Jewish residents of an eastern Jerusalem home.
Following the ruling, police blocked passage in and out of the predominately Palestinian Silwan neighborhood in anticipation of the eviction of Jewish residents from Beit Yonatan as well as the eviction of Palestinians from a nearby home claimed by Jews, for which a court order to evict also stands.
Israeli police had told Haaretz earlier Sunday that their forces were preparing to carry out the eviction. Police reportedly will at the same time evict a large, extended Palestinian family from the nearby home, a former Yemenite synagogue evacuated when it came under Jordanian control in 1948.
The evacuations could cause neighborhood riots, according to reports.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement Sunday that the two evacuations would be carried out concurrently. He said that he had tried to prevent evacuations in the area with a rezoning plan that would legalize more than 90 percent of illegal building, both Arab and Jewish. Until the rezoning plan is recognized by the Israeli government, the statement said, "the Municipality of Jerusalem will implement the rule of law evenly, without regard to race, religion, gender, national identity or political leaning, to every illegal building with court orders against it.”
Eight Jewish families live in Beit Yonatan. The building was expanded in 2004 by the right-wing group Ateret Cohanim. Several courts have ordered the building to be evacuated and sealed in recent years, but the orders have not been enforced.