High Court: A-G protests can go on, but with attendance limit

Locals want weekly Petah Tikva rallies moved to park.

Meni Naftali
Groups seeking to demonstrate near Attorney- General Avichai Mandelblit’s house won a temporary victory on Thursday with the High Court of Justice ruling that the protests can continue for now, with a 500-person limit.
The court’s order was an interim one, with a final decision pending down the line with no set date, but it means that the protests will continue with legal sanction on Saturday night after last weekend’s conflict with the police over whether they were still legal.
The Saturday evening protests near Mandelblit’s Petah Tikva residence, running now for around 40 weeks, seek to press him to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on various corruption charges.
The Movement for Quality Government in Israel, which has defended the protesters’ rights and had some involvement in organizing the rallies, responded to the ruling saying, “The constitutional right to protest won and was saved today and will return to the intersection. The court today defended the most important constitutional right in a democracy and permitted the protests to go on without a permit.”
Recently, Petah Tikva resident Tzadok Ben-Moshe filed a petition to the High Court, to have the protests moved, saying they were harming residents’ rights and disturbing the peace.
Following the petition and with the court’s hearing being delayed until this week, the police declared last week that the protests could no longer take place at the same Petah Tikva intersection a few hundred meters from Mandelblit’s home.
Last weekend, former Prime Minister’s Residence house manager and Netanyahu nemesis Meni Naftali, and Zionist Union activist Eldad Yaniv, were arrested for calling for protesters to show up at the rally point despite police instructions.
Already last week, the Movement for Quality Government said it did not recognize the police’s authority to block the demonstration, especially while the High Court proceedings are ongoing.
At a High Court hearing on Thursday, the justices pressured the state and the police to explain how it could rationalize blocking a protest with a 500-person limit if its main argument was that the protests were getting too large.
The state appeared to want to move the protests to a larger park area farther from Mandelblit’s house and which would be less disruptive to local residents.
Protesters have said they were ready to hold a dialogue with local residents like Ben-Moshe about trash collection and cleanup from rallies, if those issues were bothering local residents.
They also disputed that many more people have been attending recent demonstrations, displaying photographs to show this was not the case.
Finally, the protesters said Ben-Moshe’s declaration of the protests as an emergency was ridiculous since they had been running for 40 weeks.