Gavel (illustration)
Gavel (illustration) iStock

A Jerusalem court upheld the city's right to shutter the Barbour art gallery, enabling it to close the far-left exhibition center after a year of legal wrangling.

The city had ordered the gallery to vacate it's Nahlaot building in 2017 after it raised hackles among the right for hosting extremist groups such as Breaking the Silence. According to planning and construction regulations, the building was also not zoned to serve as a gallery and the association in charge of the building is not authorized to be there.

However, the Barbour gallery sued the city, saying that it was being persecuted for its political beliefs. Thursday's decision means that the city can finally repossess the municipality-owned building.

"All the documents and arguments submitted to the court do not provide protection. The authority to hold the land that was revoked" read the ruling.

The verdict was hailed by a wide assortment of Jerusalem-based politicos. "The unequivocal ruling of the court proves beyond doubt that the municipality's position all along was true, just and ethical," said Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

"We will not allow an invasion of its assets in the municipality will not allow in any way be used to harm IDF soldiers And in the State of Israel. We will continue to uphold the law and the institutions of the state."

Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze'ev Elkin, who is running for mayor, also welcomed the decision. "The Jerusalem Municipality does not have to host at its own expense a place that gives a platform to the events which slander the IDF and the State of Israel. It is inconceivable that an urban structure will be illegally held, will be used for radical political purposes and will host extreme leftist organizations such as Breaking the Silence and Ir Amim," Elkin said.

The ruling was condemned by Jerusalem mayoral candidate Yossi Havilio, who had represented the art gallery in court. Soon after the verdict, Havilio said that is was "a sad day for democracy in Israel and the city of Jerusalem, and a serious blow to freedom of expression."

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