Jerusalem removes Pride banner from US Embassy building over signage bylaws

The U.S. Embassy branch office in Tel Aviv is seen with Pride color flags, June 13, 2019. (U.S. Embassy Jerusalem/Twitter) 

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Jerusalem municipality removed an LGBT Pride banner hanging outside of the U.S. Embassy’s Palestinian Affairs Unit located in the center of the city.

The municipality said the banner, which was removed Tuesday, violated municipal signage bylaws and required city approval, according to reports.

It was rehung that evening following talks between the embassy and the municipality, NPR reported.

Deputy Mayor Arieh King, a right-wing activist, had ordered the removal.

“Anybody that tries to defile Jerusalem’s sanctity should be opposed,” King told the right-wing Arutz 7, or Israel National News, on Tuesday. “That’s true in the case of an Israeli body, and definitely if it is a guest coming to the city.”

The banner reads “PRIDE: The U.S. Embassy Jerusalem proudly supports tolerance and diversity.” It was hung ahead of a scheduled Pride rally to be held in a park across the street from the embassy building.

King spoke to NPR about the banner being rehung.

“I am surprised that the embassy decided not only to break the law, but also to put up a sign that the majority of residents oppose. Why take sides on a controversial issue and put up a sign on our street?” King said. “Most of the Jews, Christians and Muslims in the city oppose it.”

Last year, the State Department refused to allow the U.S. Embassy in Israel to fly a Pride flag on a flagpole, one of four embassies ordered to not do so. Instead, the U.S. Embassy branch office in Tel Aviv decorated its building with rainbow banners for the city’s Pride parade.