Supreme Court Criticizes Tel Aviv Municipality on Demo Fees

Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch says charging a fee for a demonstration in Rabin Square 'seems odd' and that it is an unfair restriction on freedom of expression.

Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch criticized the Tel Aviv municipality for charging a permit fee in order to demonstrate in Rabin Square.

The Movement for Quality Government appealed the municipality's demand to the Supreme Court, where the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Tel Aviv City Council member Yoav Goldring participated as amicae curiae (friends of the court).

beinisch - Tomer Appelbaum - September 19 2010
Tomer Appelbaum

MQG contended that in light of the unique standing of the square, and its centrality and significance for the purposes of a demonstration, payment should not be required in advance for its use. The fees amount to thousands of shekels, which are far greater than the expenses that the municipality incurs during a demonstration.

The Movement for Quality Government contended in its appeal that they were required to spend NIS 19,000 for a demonstration in Rabin Square in 2005, in which only several dozen people participated. A Tel Aviv district court found that the municipality has the right to charge a fee for granting permission for exclusive use of the square.

In their appeal to the Supreme Court, the appellants maintained that confirming the right of the municipality to charge a free in order to hold a demonstration would equate to an illegal and extremely unfair restriction on the right to demonstrate and protest against government injustices.

Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch said during the proceedings, "On the face of it, demanding a fee seems odd." Over the course of the proceedings it was decided that the government's legal advisor will submit his opinion on the topic to the Supreme Court within three months.