Deputy Mayor Meital Lehavi and the rest of the three-member Meretz faction
pulled out of the Tel Aviv City Council on Tuesday in protest of police violence
against demonstrators last Saturday night and the leadership of Mayor Ron
In a letter sent to Huldai on Tuesday, Lahavi said the mayor “has
become a leader of the policy of oppressing and sabotaging the social protest in
collaboration with the police, which is being deployed for political
“Last weekend Ron Huldai crossed a red line and switched from
being the representative of the residents of the city, to serving the leadership
which is trying to put down the protest,” she said.
Lahavi added that she
sees the social justice protest as the best chance for bringing a change in
Israeli society and “real solidarity in Israel and Tel Aviv.”
night, a group of around 100 protesters disrupted a meeting of the Tel Aviv City
Council that was cancelled due to the rowdy behavior of the activists, who
shouted down speakers and called on Meretz and Lahavi to leave the
After the meeting was adjourned, Lahavi was swarmed by dozens
of protesters as she left the building, who followed her down an escalator
towards the parking lot shouting at her to leave the coalition, with at least
one trying to throw water at her.
Tamar Zandberg of the Meretz faction
said that the protest Monday night had nothing to do with the decision to leave
the city council, which was made because Ron Huldai “has made himself the leader
of the fight against the protest movement, by sending his municipality clerks
last Friday to break up the protest tents.”
With 11 councilmen, the
opposition can now order city council meetings at will without attaining the
approval of the coalition.
After news of the Meretz defection broke
Tuesday, activists began a call for the three councilmen from the Rov Ha’Ir
faction to resign, including Deputy Mayor Asaf Zamir.
“At the moment we
are continuing our current policy, which is to continue to support the protest
movement but to do so from within the coalition,” Rov Ha’Ir member Yaniv
Weitzman said Tuesday.
Weitzman added that while Meretz’s resignation
will not bring down the coalition, “it’s still a big loss because in a city like
Tel Aviv the Meretz faction supports many important endeavors.”
the defection came just two days before Tel Aviv is set to hold its annual White
Night (Layla Lavan) festivities, a night of music, art and cultural exhibits
across the city that runs into the early morning hours. The event sees art
galleries, restaurants and fashion houses stay open long after normal closing
hours in order to hold special events, both formal and informal.
night is one of the most popular annual celebrations in Tel Aviv and brings tens
of thousands of revelers into the city.
Activists have called on artists
and club owners to boycott the event, and according to Alon Lee- Green, one of
the more prominent leaders of the protest movement today, activists plan to hold
protest marches through the streets in a number of locations in the city while
White Night is being held.
Cancellations have included a night of
concerts that was to be held at the Ozen bar, a literary event that was to
include Israeli author Etgar Keret, and a concert by the Israeli band
According to the Facebook page Black Night – The White List,
which is compiling the names of artists agreeing to boycott, the list of those
who won’t be taking part in the festivities continues to grow.
Tuesday evening those boycotting White Night also included 12 art galleries and
nine different fashion houses.
The Tel Aviv Municipality said on Tuesday
that “White Night includes hundreds of cultural, musical and artistic events,
most of which are free of charge, in order to make them available to a wide
“The City Hall hopes that White Night will be a night of culture
and music, for all those who decide to take part,” it said.
In regard to
the intention to demonstrate, the municipality said: “It’s important to note
that the city of Tel Aviv allows the use of the public space for holding
protests and sees the protest as a legitimate and just act. That said, the
public sphere is for the use of all of the public and the city believes in
finding a balance between the right to protest and the preservation of public
order and concern for the rights of its citizens.”
The city added that it
is “distressed” by the “serious violence shown by protesters against
municipality workers, which is something that did not characterize the struggle
of last year. “It’s a shame that people are trying to exploit the legitimate
protest in order to make violent acts like punching, spitting, and throwing
insults at municipality workers.”
The municipality did not say how they
think the calls to boycott would affect White Night.
planned alternative White Night events, including two in the city’s South
One event, “A Night of Black Culture in Neve Shannan,” will be held
at the corner of Matalon and Tchelnov Streets at 6 p.m. and include a meeting of
residents of south Tel Aviv and members of the African migrant
There will also be a photo exhibit by the photographers’
collective “Activestills” taken at protests in south Tel Aviv over the past
year, and a “black street party.”
South Tel Aviv will also host a
“protest party” in the Shapira neighborhood.
Earlier in the evening, a
demonstration will be held at the corner of King George and Ben-Tzion Streets in
the heart of central Tel Aviv.