Deputy minister, ally to Benjamin Netanyahu quits

Jerusalem –

An ultranationalist ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has submitted his resignation as deputy minister in the new government.

Avi Maoz’s resignation was the first crack in Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, which took office in late December after securing a parliamentary majority in November elections.

Maoz, leader of a small ultranationalist faction known for its homophobic rhetoric and disparaging remarks against unorthodox Jews, said he would step down as deputy minister but would continue to vote with the coalition in parliament. Netanyahu’s ruling coalition holds 64 seats in the 120-seat parliament.

The leader of the Noam faction said in a letter to Netanyahu on Monday that the office “has found no serious intentions to support the Union Pact” regarding the strengthening of Jewish identity among Israelis. wrote.

Maoz is a Jewish fundamentalist, West Bank settler, and outspoken opponent of LGBTQ2S+ rights and women in the military. He expressed opposition to Arabs teaching Jewish students in Israeli schools. He denies the legitimacy of unorthodox Judaism, including reform and conservative movements. These moves have reached their limits in Israel, but have prevailed in the United States, which has long provided Israel with financial and diplomatic support.

Maoz’s Noam faction, which ran on a joint ticket with Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionism party in the last election, won 14 seats in the Knesset, making it the third largest faction.

Netanyahu and his allies are pushing a series of bills aimed at undermining the Supreme Court and giving politicians greater power over judicial appointments. Opponents of judicial reform say the proposed changes threaten Israel’s democratic institutions and centralize power in the government’s hands. They met weekly for mass protests.

“I will continue to be a member of the Coalition and support very important judicial reform,” Moores wrote.

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