End of an Era / Falafel Eateries Must Leave Bezalel Market Without Compensation

They broke the rules, now must pay the price, says court.

The owners of the two remaining falafel stands in the Bezalel Market in Tel Aviv will be evicted for the sake of a residential project - but are not eligible for compensation, a court recently ruled.

Magistrates Court Judge Ishai Koren found against Eli Noy and Benjamin Shahar, who had been sued by the city of Tel Aviv to vacate the premises. Their stands are on land the city owns, which is slated for development by Elad Israel Residence (formerly known as Dankner Investments ), a company owned by Yitzhak Tshuva.

falafel stands at Bezalel Market
Guy Raivitz

Koren accepted the city's position that the two falafel stand owners had violated their lease terms and therefore were eligible neither for compensation nor an alternative venue for business.

One of the two had paid the city NIS 400,000 back in the 1980s for the rights to use the land. But the city argued that both were in arrears of lease payments, and said they had made use of the land without reaching an agreement with the city. The city also said the legal dispute began in 1995, when the two lost their rights to use the land because of breach of contract.

For their part, the falafel stands' owners claimed the city had concealed material facts from the court, including an agreement between them and the development company to compensate them for evacuating the premises. That agreement never came to execution: Its fate is still being hashed out before another bench, the Tel Aviv District Court.

Still, when the city saw that the development company had failed to force them out, the two falafel stand owners claim - it sued to have them evacuated based on "imaginary grounds."

Koren rejected their position and ruled that the city had proven they had materially breached contract by failing to make full lease payments on time. They had also broken the law by building illegal constructs, he said. He also rejected their plea for equitable relief, based on merit as it were, on the grounds that they had broken the rules and persisted in their breach of contract.

Just under a year ago the Tel Aviv Magistrates Court discussed another case: a petition by three Bezalel Market traders against the city of Tel Aviv and Elad, demanding that an arrangement for compensation be reached. The traders claimed the city had sold the land to Elad, making the company the real owner.

The city however objected to Elad being a party to the proceedings: The company had won a tender to develop the site, but did not own it, the municipality claimed. Elad also objected to becoming a party to the lawsuit, also saying the agreement with the city covered development of the site alone, not transfer of ownership. But in that case the court sided with the traders, saying Elad could not be relieved of all responsibility and should be party to the discussion of compensation for the traders.