Noam's MK Avi Maoz will return to the government as a deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Office and lead a body called the "Jewish National Identity Authority," the government is set to decide in its weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday morning.
The move is set to be approved after Maoz voted in favor of the national 2023-2024 budget last week, after threatening to oppose the budget if the government did not pledge to advance the authority's formation.
Opposition Knesset members from Yesh Atid demanded to know last week before voting on the budget started, whether or not an agreement had been reached between Maoz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which Maoz would support the budget in exchange for his reinstatement in the government, which the opposition MKs claimed needed to be presented to the public.
Ministerial Liaison to the Knesset Dudi Amsalem (Likud) declined that such an agreement had been made. Yesh Atid MK Merav Ben-Ari claimed on Twitter on Thursday after the government's Sunday cabinet meeting agenda was published that the timing of Maoz's return to the government was not a coincidence and that she would turn to the Attorney-General to examine the matter.
Maoz returns after quitting government earlier this year
Maoz quit the government in February after claiming that it was not fulfilling the coalition agreement between his Noam party and the Likud. In its decision that is expected to pass the cabinet today, the government states that it will pass an additional government decision that will lay out the budget for the authority's different purpose. The budget will be NIS 120 million in 2023 and NIS 165 million in 2024.
The Authority's four purposes, according to the government decision, are to "strengthen Jewish identity via a number of projects, includes research, financial support, grants, joint initiatives and actions amongst different population groups, including youth and adults, people with special needs, and other populations"; to develop and found a "transparency system for parents" about external educational programs that are taught in schools, and publish and provide the public access to it, on the condition that this does not harm any of the education ministry's authorities; to "assist and support educational institutions in the field of national Jewish identity, in coordination with the education minister and with his approval"; and publish information to that public on topics of "deepening national Jewish identity and strengthening it".
Maoz's Noam ultra-conservative party opposes homosexuality and the LGBTQ+ community in general. Maoz acted during the government's tenure to force government forms to include "father" and "mother" instead of "parent one" and "parent two", and defines his party's purpose as "waging war against progressive values," which he views are the source of moral decay in the West in general, and in Israel in particular.
When the coalition agreements between the Likud and Noam were first published in December, a number of municipalities said that they would not enable any anti-LGBT content to enter school systems in their municipalities. The government decision set to be approved today stresses that Maoz's "Jewish National Identity Authority" will be run separately from the education ministry, and that any actions it wishes to take in schools must be approved by the education minister.