Court: TA protesters, City Hall must continue talks

Tent protesters, TA municipality should return to negotiating table over future of Rothschild Blvd. encampment, recommends Supreme Court.

By
September 22, 2011 16:21
2 minute read.
Student Union takes down Rothschild tent in TA

Tent City Dismantled 311. (photo credit: ben Hartman)

 
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In a hearing on Thursday, the Supreme Court asked tent protesters and the Tel Aviv Municipality to return to the negotiating table to decide the future of the Rothschild Boulevard protest encampment.

Supreme Court Justice Uzi Fogelman has given protesters until Sunday to attempt to reach an agreement with City Hall, but said that the court will decide the matter if a consensus is not reached.

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“As a society, not one of us has an interest in forced evictions,” said Fogelman, who disclosed at the start of the hearing that his daughter lives on Rothschild Boulevard. Neither party objected to that fact and the hearing continued.

Protesters are appealing against Sunday’s District Court decision that the municipality could evacuate the twomonth- old encampment.

Attorney Michael Sfard, representing the protesters, said the municipality could not tell the activists how to protest.

“The protest is not over,” said Sfard, adding that while the municipality said it agreed to the protests, it was not prepared to permit manned tents to remain on Rothschild Boulevard.



Attorney Pazit Baratz, for the Tel Aviv Municipality, said both Mayor Ron Huldai and the municipality had actively demonstrated their support for the protests but repeated City Hall’s position that the manned tents themselves must now go.

Rothschild residents, who have added themselves as a party to the petition on the side of the municipality, have complained of “anarchy” on the boulevard as protesters moved out and homeless people and drug addicts moved in to empty tents.

Baratz said the municipality took dialogue with protesters seriously, but noted that the court hearings focused only on their right to protest and not on any of the issues they were fighting for.

Though the Rothschild encampment was originally established to protest against housing problems, protesters have said the petition is about their right to protest and argue that evacuating the encampment harms their freedom of expression.

“We all read in the media that 400,000 people came to the [social justice] demonstration,” Baratz said.” But who says that manned tents represent that protest?” Protest spokesman Roee Neuman told The Jerusalem Post after the hearing that protesters are optimistic that negotiations with the municipality would result in some manned tents being permitted to remain on Rothschild Boulevard.

“Negotiations are going well,” said Neuman.

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