Court criticizes Tel Aviv for charging to use Kikar Rabin

"Tel Aviv Municipality is a public, not an economic, body, even though lately it has developed a hobby of making a business out of public spaces," Justice Uzi Fogelman says.

By DAN IZENBERG
October 20, 2010 02:36
2 minute read.
Court criticizes Tel Aviv for charging to use Kikar Rabin

Rabin Square book fest 88 248. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday criticized the Tel Aviv Municipality for charging the Movement for Quality Government (MQG) NIS 19,000 for the use of Kikar Rabin, a popular venue for demonstrations, to hold a protest in 2005 against a bill being considered by the Knesset.

“The Tel Aviv Municipality is a public, not an economic, body, even though lately it has developed a hobby of making a business out of public spaces, [a reference to the fact that the city allowed a commercial company to put up big posters at the Mann Auditorium advertising its wares – DI],” said Justice Uzi Fogelman.


Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch added that the question of renting out public spaces had to be studied comprehensively, to establish a uniform policy which would apply throughout the country.

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In 2005, after the city charged the MQG for the use of Kikar Rabin, the watchdog organization appealed against the charge to Tel Aviv District Court, arguing that by charging money, the city was restricting the right of the public to protest and therefore limiting its freedom of expression.

The court rejected the appeal and justified the city’s policy.

“We cannot deny the right of the municipality to charge expenses for having granted the organization exclusive use of the square,” wrote Judge Michal Rubinstein.

In 2008, the MQG appealed against the lower court decision.

In the appeal, it charged that the city had violated one of the conditions set down by the district court itself, when it ordered the MQG to pay NIS 10,000 in advance for the use of the square, a sum which was much higher than the expenses that accrued to the city as a result of the protest.



The MQG also charged that “the municipality treats Kikar Rabin like a rental property, like any other that it rents, instead of the unique national stage for the actualization of freedom of expression that it is.”

On Monday, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and a member of the Tel Aviv City Council, Yoav Goldring, asked the court to grant it the status of amicus curiae (friend of the court) in order to submit its own arguments for rejecting the lower court decision.

At the end of the hearing, the court gave the state 90 days to submit its position on the appeal.


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