Thousands are expected to march in the Jerusalem Pride Parade Thursday, and in contrast to previous years no violent threats have been heard from the ultra-Orthodox community, which has a history of aggressively objecting to the parade.
"These are the results of talks and agreements reached with the leaders of the ultra-Orthodox sect over the past year and a half," said Amit Lev, spokesman for Jerusalem's Open House, which organizes the parade every year.
"For the first time in Jerusalem the hawkish camps have reached a settlement, and I hope this will affect Jerusalem's future as a pluralist city."
The only shadow so far cast over the event is a message by Mayor Nir Barkat, who said he would not be present. "My reasons are my own," he said in place of an explanation. Municipality officials believe he fears angering the haredi public, with which he is already at odds over the opening of a city parking lot on Saturdays.
Former city councilman Saar Netanel, who has led the parade in recent years, was dismayed at the announcement.
"The Pride Parade in Tel Aviv is funded by the municipality, and the mayor takes an active part in it and addresses the community, while in Jerusalem the mayor does not do this and is not trying to please the community as he is the ultra-Orthodox public," Netanel said.
However he was satisfied with the general calm preceding the event. "I'm glad we are not witnessing the occurrences of previous years, and that the parade is slowly becoming an integral part of city life," he said.
Organizers expect around 5,000 people at the parade, which will begin at 5 pm at Hapa'amon Park. Jerusalem Police will secure the event with more than 1,500 police and Border Guard officers, undercover detectives, and a chopper to provide traffic reports.
Efrat Weiss contributed to this report.