Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Barkat Fights For Justice in Jerusalem Housing
Very little is being said about what a champion Barkat has been on this issue, and I would like to take a moment to bring this to everyone's attention.
Barkat, as the mayor of Jerusalem, has very little power regarding the High Court's orders against Beit Yehonatan, but he has a lot to say about the arab structures that have been built in the Silwan area of Jerusalem.
He has finally put his foot down on policies which discriminate against Jews and said, essentially: "If you want to tear down Jewish structures, fine--but I will also tear all the arab structures." Barkat is looking for something very strange in the Israeli Justice system: Justice.
For too long, those who made violent protest against judicial orders--i.e. the arabs, and, more recently, the Haredim--have swayed the courts decisions because the courts, in an effort to keep peace, have only ruled against those who would not cause civil unrest. The result of this policy is that there is one set of laws for trouble-makers, and one set of laws for those who show respect.
Unfortunately, the trouble makers are find out that it is worth their while to make more trouble, and those who had followed and respected the law before have learned a valuable lesson: if you respect the laws, you will be discriminated against.
Many groups have learned their lessons. Instead of just going along and letting the government have their way, every group from Gush Katif refugees to homosexuals have learned that the fear of violent protests is the only way to get the courts to rule in your favor. If the court fears the protests from your group more than the protests of another group, they will rule in favor of your group.
This, of course, is not justice--it is insanity! This policy has lead to an almost complete break-down of all civil law in Israel.
The courts must learn that one may not be compassionate to the cruel without being cruel to the compassionate. They must learn that showing favoritism out of fear or guilt is not justice. Justice must uphold the law evenly and resolutely, or it upholds nothing.
'One law for everyone'
BY ABE SELIG
Knesset panel tours Beit Yehonatan as Barkat calls process of dealing with demolition orders for illegal structures flawed.
Members of the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee paid a visit to Beit Yehonatan in Silwan on Tuesday morning, where they called for an end to the “non-implementation” of demolition orders against hundreds of illegally-built homes in the east Jerusalem neighborhood and a halt to the “discriminatory manner” in which the State Attorney’s Office had pursued court orders against the seven-story, Jewish-owned structure.
“It’s discriminatory and it’s a finger in the eye of the Jewish presence here,” MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) said of State Attorney Moshe Lador’s insistence that a court order to evacuate and seal the building be implemented immediately.
“There are hundreds of illegal buildings in Silwan, yet the insistence to deal only with Beit Yehonatan is part of an effort to make east Jerusalem ‘Judenrein.’ It’s a finger in the eye of the Jewish presence here,” he added.
Other MKs also present during the tour included MK Gideon Ezra (Kadima), who said that he wanted to see one law applied to all the buildings in the area.
Ezra, a former deputy-director of the General Security Service, also said that a large number of the residents of Silwan were “living there illegally” and had come from Hebron, Ramallah and other West Bank cities for financial reasons.
Interior Committee Chairman MK David Azoulay (Shas) told reporters that the large number of illegal buildings in the area was the result of “years of inaction” by the State Attorney’s Office and other relevant city bodies who had “dozed off on their watch.” “And such is simply unacceptable, in the country’s capital no less,” he added.
After the tour concluded, the Interior Affairs Committee convened at the Knesset where Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat presented municipality data showing some 20,000 illegal structures throughouteast Jerusalem and 657 in Silwan alone.
Barkat also told the committee that the process of dealing with demolition orders in east Jerusalem was “flawed” and that he hoped to come to an agreement with the residents of the neighborhood that would allow for building to be regulated in the area once and for all.
One of the ideas broached by Barkat during the committee meeting was the possibility of legalizing structures in Silwan up to four stories, which, according to the mayor, would retroactively legalize more than 90 percent of the illegally-built homes in the neighborhood.
“I want to create one law for everyone,” Barkat said. “And I have approached the state attorney [Moshe Lador] and asked for support in this matter. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten that support.
“The city’s legal system is not creative, and [Lador] has instructed me to begin carrying out demolition orders. I have stated that not only will I do this under protest, I will do it in a uniform manner.”
Barkat’s comments were seen as a further hint of his readiness to carry out dozens of demolitions in Silwan if Lador and city attorney Yossi Havilio – with whom the mayor has struggled over demolition orders and rezoning plans in east Jerusalem – continue to reject his plans.
The Post reported on Sunday that Barkat had instructed his staff to begin coordinating with police for the possibility of such demolitions taking place, although sources within the municipality have said that the mayor still hopes to find a constructive solution in Silwan and throughout east Jerusalem.