MK Avi Maoz, leader of the openly homophobic Noam Party who resigned from the government in late February, will be reinstated to his position of deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office next Sunday.
Maoz, whose appointment to oversee external programming in schools sparked outrage around the country, handed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu his letter of resignation in which he explained that he was "astonished to discover that there is no serious intention of honoring the coalition agreement regarding the Jewish National Identity Authority," a body that he was supposed to lead.
Maoz’s return to the government was made possible after the approval of the state budget by the Knesset Wednesday morning which will allocate NIS 120 million ($32 million) to the Jewish National Identity Authority in 2023, and an additional NIS 165 million ($45 million) in 2024. The spending will be brought to a final vote at the weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday.
The text of the proposal states that "it is proposed to strengthen Jewish national identity through various projects, including research, support, scholarships, joint initiatives, and actions among various publics, including youth, adults, people with special needs, and other populations."
The proposal also includes a budget earmarked for the development of a system separate from the Education Ministry that would provide parents with access to information and transparency about external programs taught to their children in schools.
Maoz, an outspoken advocate against LGBTQ+ rights, has accused such external programs of inculcating children with anti-Zionist and anti-family values.
Ori Keidar, the head of Israel Hofsheet, a group advocating for policy change on issues of religion and state, said in response “Every parent in Israel should know that on Sunday, the government will take Avi Maoz, a figure on the margins of society, and give him the authority and resources to brainwash Israeli children. We will expose Maoz's attempts to inject religious indoctrination into the system, and we urge parents to carefully examine what is being told to their children and by whom.”