Mazuz's solution: 'Modest' gay parade
At end of meeting with attorney general, Jerusalem District Police Commander Major General Ilan Franco says he will try and meet with Open House representatives in bid to find ways 'to hold a modest pride parade at a place and time which parties will agree upon'
Major General Berti Ohayon, head of operations at the police, also attended the meeting.
Following the decisions, about 100 ultra-Orthodox men arrived at the Shabbat Square in Jerusalem, burned garbage carts and blocked a road. The police are preparing for a continuation of the riots.
During the meeting, which lasted about four hours, the attorney general was presented with different scenarios.
The attorney general told the police officials: "We have to make a decision – will we give in to threats or deal with them. We must found an equation that will be possible to secure."
He added that "giving in to threats in a comprehensive manner is a threat to democracy, and therefore not holding the parade is unthinkable."
According to Franco, "The attorney general heard, listened attentively and instructed the Open House members and the police to reach an understanding and find an alternative."
"We spoke with the Open House people and we will meet tomorrow morning and try to reach an understanding on an alternative event, time and place," he said.
The police representatives arrived at the attorney general's office with a plan to ask him to back their decision to cancel the parade, but presented him with an alternative to hold a happening in a closed place. Mazuz took into account that completely cancelling the parade would harm rights and may not be approved by the High Court, thus insisting that the police would try and reach alternative solutions.
Major-General Ohayon arrives at Justice Ministry (Photo: Uriel Hershko)
Jerusalem Council member Saar Netanel welcomed the decision made by the attorney general and the police. According to him, "This decision takes into account the freedom of speech and the security considerations, and conveys an important message that violence, incitement and terror will not win."
Netanel sent a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in which he expressed his anger over Olmert's silence.
"You of all people, who served in the past as the Jerusalem mayor and who now serves in the important role of prime minister in Israel, cannot remain indifferent and stay silent while the basic rights of a great public in Israel are being crushed and when the vulnerability and fragility of the Israeli democracy is fully exposed."
Earlier, senior police officials met to discuss the operational activities which will be needed to secure the pride parade, which is scheduled to be held in Jerusalem on Friday.
The police apparently recommended not to hold the parade, and are now discussing alternatives.
Police Chief Moshe Karadi said Sunday that police face "one of the most difficult decisions" on whether to allow the gay pride arade to take place as planned in the capital.
Karadi convened a meeting with senior police officials to discuss a plan to secure the event. Police have drawn a security plan codenamed 'All the Rainbow's Colors' to secure the event on Friday.
MK Gal-On: Police permitted incitement
MK Yitzhak Levi (National Union-National Religious Party), leading the campaign against the pride parade, said following Mazuz's decision that "holding the parade at any price is likely to result in violence and damage to the fabric of the city."
Levi called Mazuz "to read the writing on the war and to change his mind before it's too late."
MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz) harshly criticized the police, who, according to her, "worked in service of the fanatic inter-faith coalition" in its attempt to block the gay pride parade in the capital.
According to her, "The police created an atmosphere that permitted incitement in order to prevent the parade from happening."
Education Minister Yuli Tamir called on the police to let the parade go ahead as planned.
"Violent threats cannot silence people in a democratic country, resorting to violence means that we have not learned a thing from the Rabin murder. The dispute now is not about where the parade can march, but rather whether threats can cause people not to march in a democratic country," the minister said.
The Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance sent a letter to Mazuz, saying that "the pride and tolerance parade is aimed at promoting equal rights for members of the proud community in Jerusalem, by obtaining public visibility, which symbolizes the end of community members' hiding and putting the issue on the social agenda.
"In a city like Jerusalem, of all places, which houses communities that make it very difficult to get out of the closet, there is a need for a public event which provides legitimacy and a sense of belonging to the city residents who are forced to deal with difficulties with this issue. The parade manifests the pluralistic idea that the streets of the city belong to all its residents, and that no sector has a monopoly over public space."
The letter added that "the police's mission is to defend the basic rights of the State's citizens, especially when there is an attempt to violently thwart through violent threats the right of a minority to hold a quiet march in the capital's streets. It is unthinkable that violence could lead to political achievements, and we must not allow those who break the law to rule who will be able to realize his rights and where. The police's duty is to withstand the attempts to undermine the rule of law."
Aviram Zino, Ilan Marciano and Moran Zelikovich contributed to the report