ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 57

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Coalition would still have a majority with 63 Knesset seats

Far-right MK Avi Maoz threatens to quit coalition if he doesn’t get promised powers

Noam lawmaker says if coalition doesn’t meet demand before passing state budget in May, he will ‘work from the Knesset for the benefit of the public’

Noam party head Avi Maoz speaks during his faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, January 30, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Noam party head Avi Maoz speaks during his faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, January 30, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The far-right Noam party’s sole lawmaker, Mk Avi Maoz, threatened on Monday to leave the coalition if the government does not create an office for national Jewish identity that he was promised to lead, as stipulated in his coalition agreement with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party

Maoz said that if the coalition does not meet his demand before passing the state budget by the end of May, he will quit the coalition and “work from the Knesset for the benefit of the public.”

Maoz quit his post late last month as a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, complaining then that the coalition did not intend to create various offices and transfer powers promised to him in sweeping coalition agreements.

If Maoz quits the parliamentary coalition as well, the government would still have a majority with 63 seats in the 120-seat Knesset.

The far-right MK, known for his homophobic, misogynist and anti-pluralism positions, said Monday that he was still eying control of an external educational programming unit which he controversially wants to separate from the Education Ministry. The appointment was met with outrage when it was announced in January.

Last month, Maoz sent Netanyahu a letter saying that he was resigning as a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office because he was frustrated by an inability to bring about meaningful change in the role. He wrote that he “was shocked to find there was no serious intention of honoring the coalition deal.”

In the letter to Netanyahu, Maoz wrote that had he unsuccessfully worked to roll back a number of policy points pushed by the last government during his short stint in the job.

Among them, Maoz tried to reintroduce the labels “father” and “mother” on official government ministry forms, instead of the more progressive “parent 1” and “parent 2” that was adopted by the government under Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid.

In addition, Maoz tried to change state policy towards an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall. In February, the government told the High Court of Justice that it still plans to improve the section marked for non-Orthodox, egalitarian prayer.

Maoz decried the position, writing in his resignation letter that he tried to get the government “to preserve the sanctity of the Western Wall and stop the actions to divide it.”

The resignation last month, and Maoz’s further threats on Monday, highlighted the internal tensions in the Netanyahu hardline coalition which the premier formed a little over two months ago.

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