Jerusalem’s Zion Square, which has served as the backdrop for boisterous protest rallies for decades, will no longer host demonstrations because of the contract between the Jerusalem municipality and CityPass, which operates the city’s light rail system.
The contract prohibits the train being stopped by a roadblock. This means no more demonstrations will be held at the venue, which has long been the site of protests that have, in essence, mirrored the history of the state. Among the historic events that have taken place at Zion Square are: a protest in 1952 led by then-opposition leader Menachem Begin against accepting reparations from Germany; a demonstration by the Black Panthers in the 1970s; and Benjamin Netanyahu’s appearence on a balcony overlooking the square during a right-wing demonstration just before Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated.
Rona Orovano and Roi Fruman, leaders of the social protest movement in Jerusalem, applied two weeks ago to the police for a permit to hold a 5,000-strong demonstration in Zion Square or Paris Square, which were rally focal points last summer. Late last week they were denied permission to hold their rally at Zion Square, or to shut down the streets around Paris Square, because it would disrupt the light rail.
Last summer, before the light rail went into service, protesters marched from the Mashbir Square to Zion Square and on to Paris Square.
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