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Israeli anti-LGBT+ faction demands government rolls back gender equality if it wants coalition

Emma Powys Maurice April 2, 2021
Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)

The Israeli anti-LGBT+ Noam party has offered to form a coalition with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the condition that he rolls back gender equality laws.

The extremist faction of the right-wing Religious Zionist party announced on Thursday (1 April) that they would recommend Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, be tasked with forming another government.

In return for helping him cling to power, they released a string of conditions that includes a demand to “amend” the UN-based Government Resolution 2331 to reflect what they see as “Jewish values”.

This law is aimed at promoting gender equality in public institutions and requires the government to work to “strengthen the safety of women in the public sphere and prevent violence against them”.

Besides amending the resolution, the extremist party would also order government bodies to act in accordance with the principles of so-called Jewish nation-state law.

According to the Times of Israel, this defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, a law strongly opposed by Israel’s Druze and other Arab minorities who say it effectively makes them “second-class citizens”.

In addition Noam will demand the establishment of a new government office called “Defence of the Nation: the office for detecting and neutralising foreign influences in the State of Israel”.

Noam leader Avi Maoz is known for his ultra-orthodox policies and has campaigned fiercely against all forms of LGBT+ rights in Israel, including same-sex adoption and IVF for same-sex couples.

The last election saw his party run on a primary focus of combatting LGBT+ acceptance, with a rhetoric that linked gay people with child trafficking, compared LGBT+ advocates to Nazis and promised to make Israel “a normal nation”.

The news of the proposed coalition has horrified many Israeli commentators and politicians, including the Meretz party’s Tamar Zandberg, who compared it to the dystopian Handmaid’s Tale.

“The darkness mistakenly called the ‘Noam Party’ was hidden throughout the entire election cycle only to reveal that, in exchange for immunity for Netanyahu, they would demand we live in a Handmaid’s Tale-style world,” she tweeted.

“The Netanyahu government is not just a game of political seats, but a tangible danger to the safety of women and the LGBT+ community.”

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid also slammed Netanyahu on Twitter, asking: “Is this the government you want? A disturbed, racist, chauvinistic government that will take Israel back to the Middle Ages?

“No sane prime minister – or any sane publicly elected official – would allow such a thing to happen. It’s time for decisions.”

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