Israeli City Threatens Resident With Fine for anti-Netanyahu Sign on Her Property

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Protest signs hung in Rosh Ha'ayin that the municipality demands be removed, September 30, 2020
Protest signs hung in Rosh Ha'ayin that the municipality demands be removed, September 30, 2020Credit: Ruti Erez
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The Rosh Ha’ayin municipality has threatened to fine a resident unless she removes protest signs against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that she has placed on a fence on the perimeter of her property and a mall.

The signs hung up by Ruti Erez on a fence, the opposite side of which is public property, read: “We’re fed up with you, disconnected people.”

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The city said its demand was based on a bylaw prohibiting eyesores, which has been enforced against residents with untrimmed bushes that intrude on public areas.

Erez said a municipal inspector came to her home on Tuesday and ordered the signs’ removed. She said that he “didn’t have a clue” which bylaw might justify that demand. “He just told me that if it were on the inward-facing side of the fence, it would be okay, but not on the outward-facing side,” Erez said.

She has posted signs with political messages on this fence in the past, but this time she said “the municipality told me that during an election campaign, there are special rules.”

Her lawyer, Hadas Ben-Naftali, told city hall on Wednesday that the demand violated court rulings and the attorney general’s orders to respect the right to protest. “While the city does have the right to bar eyesores, she wrote, it can’t overrule a person’s right to protest on her own property “just because someone is upset by the sign.”

The municipality responded that it is exercising its legal authority to enforce a general policy of barring people from putting up signs in public areas except during election campaigns.

On Wednesday, a Kochav Ya’ir resident was also warned that she would be fined if she didn’t remove an identical sign, but Mayor Yuval Arad later rescinded that threat after consulting the attorney general’s office.

Although the inspector was properly enforcing the bylaws, Arad said, he considered it inappropriate to bar political signs at this time.

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