(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
The city of Tel Aviv will continue to allow peaceful social justice demonstrations as long as they are approved and nonviolent, Mayor Ron Huldai said Monday, in his first statement since the violent protest Saturday night in which police arrested 89 demonstrators and vandals shattered the windows of three banks.
“The city of Tel Aviv will continue to support all protests that are held in accordance with the law. We will not however allow violence and vandalism,” Huldai said, in a video he released Monday.
Huldai said he is against violence “both from police against handcuffed protesters and also by protesters who break windows. Violence is unacceptable and therefore we [the city of Tel Aviv] will continue to be democratic, and part of the protest.”
The mayor called Tel Aviv under his stewardship “the city of protests and democracy,” adding “a tent city protest was held in the city last year after we gave our approval for it to be held on Rothschild Boulevard.”
He also said the city had approved and provided equipment for a number of rallies recently, and that he sees Tel Aviv as a city where “all of the big protests are held, both on the Left and the Right.”
Huldai continued that as mayor he must also think of the rest of the city and its residents, and not just the demonstrators.
“What did I ask? That there wouldn’t be tents on Rothschild Boulevard,” he said, adding that the city offered an alternate site at Wolowelsky Park near the Arlosoroff Train Station.
Huldai’s video was released just a few hours before a stormy session of the city council was adjourned after attendees continuously disrupted the mayor and other speakers. A few hundred social justice protesters came to the meeting, where the City for All faction of the council was supposed to issue a no-confidence vote against Huldai.
Protesters voiced their anger at the fact that several dozen people were barred from entering, even though there were many open seats within the council hall.
After the meeting was adjourned, protesters made their way to the plaza outside to hold an impromptu rally. As Deputy Mayor Meital Lahavi (Meretz) made her way out of the hall, the crowd gathered around her shouting and demanding that she leave the coalition with Huldai’s One Tel Aviv faction. The crowd continued to hound Lahavi, shouting “Bibi’s collaborator!” as she made her way down the escalator, with at least one protester throwing water at her.