The leader of a small ultranationalist faction leader known for homophobic rhetoric, which has earlier struck a deal to enter government, on Monday rejected criticism of his his anti-LGBTQ policies.
Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party announced Sunday that the agreement names Noam faction leader Avi Maoz as a deputy minister whose portfolio includes an office bolstering Jewish identity among Israelis.
A day after signing a coalition agreement, Avi Maoz responded to critics of his pending appointment to the post, with responsibility over education, Russian immigration and National Jewish identity.
Speaking to faction members in the Knesset, Maoz said: "I am aware of the criticism and the personal shaming, directed at me as well as the many messages of support I have received.
"My message to all the people of Israel is don't be confused, there is nothing to worry about. I am your brother and have come to serve all of the people of Israel, based on my faith and positions. I will continue to do so in a steadfast and sensitive manner," he said.
"I love every person who was created in the image of God, and I did not demand that the gay parades be canceled. This matter did not come up in the negotiations."
The coalition agreement states that a new authority in charge of Jewish national identity will be established in the Prime Minister's Office, to be headed by Maoz who has opposed the service of women in the military, stating that Jewish women's role is to bear children and raise families.
"We work against what we think is a threat to society and the people of Israel. Therefore, I will fight the agenda of alternative families," Moaz once said in an interview.
"Women can contribute to society in many ways, but the most meaningful contribution to the nation is by marriage and with God's help raising a family."
He also vowed to work against reform Judaism, in order to allegedly preserve Israel's Jewish identity, and said the Law of Return had been used to allow non-Jews into the country.
Outgoing Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beytenu party, supported by immigrants from the former Soviet Union, slammed the appointment of Maoz to head the organization that facilitates the immigration of Russian Jews to Israel, and his efforts to change the Law of Return.
"At this moment, there are 5,500 soldiers serving in the military, who are not considered Jewish by the religious establishment," Liberman said. "I believe they are more Jewish than all of the active service members from religious seminaries. I suppose Maoz would like to block them from being Israelis as well."
Netanyahu's Likud party has yet to finalize its coalition agreement with all its prospective allies and form a government.