Jerusalem Artists Will Not Be Evicted - for Now

An agreement has been reached between the artists and the East Jerusalem Development Corporation.

The artists will not be evicted from Jerusalem's Hutzot Hayotzer artists quarter for the next three years, according to an agreement reached between the artists and the East Jerusalem Development Corporation this week.

With the agreement, the artists - who have worked in the quarter for decades - scored a temporary victory in their two-and-a-half year struggle to prevent the corporation from evicting them.

They will be able to continue operating their workshops, but will pay a higher rent. The workshops will be put out to tender in three years, but the artists will be given a favorable advantage in bidding for them.

In January, the corporation issued eviction orders to some 20 elderly artists, some of them over the age of 80.

The artists said the municipal body wanted to turn the quarter into a commercial center and profit from selling the real estate. They were offended when one of the corporation's assessors wrote in his report that the area had declined due to "the aging of the artists' population."

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat intervened to solve the conflict, which had turned the picturesque quarter into a battleground between the corporation and the artists.

A coalition agreement Barkat signed with the Meretz faction a week ago stipulates no unilateral moves will be made in the artists quarter. In addition, new directors representing the state have joined the corporations executive board, changing the company's attitude toward the artists.

"My goal is to reach an agreement," said the recently appointed corporation board chairman Orly Yehezkel. "We want to promote the neighborhood and it's important not to have any grumbling."