As coalition negotiations wind down, it appears unlikely that any women will be appointed to senior ministerial positions or be members of the Security Cabinet, despite the government’s adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 to involve more women in matters of peace and security.
The UNSC adopted Resolution 1325 in 2000, calling for women’s “equal participation and full involvement in all effort for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security” and Israel was the first UN member state to include part of the resolution in its laws.
In December 2014, the government adopted resolution 1325 in full, but as coalition talks come to a close, it appears that the new government will not implement that decision.
There will probably be four female ministers in the new government: Ayelet Shaked of Bayit Yehudi with the Culture and Sport portfolio; Sofa Landver will be immigration absorption minister if Yisrael Beytenu joins the coalition; Miri Regev and either Gila Gamliel or Tzipi Hotovely of the Likud will receive the Welfare and Negev and Galilee ministries once the distribution of portfolios within the Likud is decided. Three parties do not plan to appoint a female minister: Shas, United Torah Judaism, and Kulanu.
In the last government, there were four female ministers, with then-justice minister Tzipi Livni serving in the Security Cabinet.
Hotovely said she supports having a woman in the Security Cabinet, but first the problem of not having enough women in the full cabinet must be solved.
The Likud MK also explained that since, for many years, there was only one female Likud minister – Livnat – there is no woman who currently has ministerial experience, which is why none of them is likely to be appointed to the senior ministries that are the key to Security Cabinet memberships.
“It’s disconcerting that throughout the history of the country there were only 14 female ministers – including [former prime minister] Golda Meir – as opposed to over 200 males. That is a pathetic number,” Hotovely said. “The government has to represent the public as well as possible, and it’s not doing a good job with over 50 percent of the population.”
“Before we get to what jobs the women have, we need as many as possible to be ministers. We’re still at an early stage,” Hotovely added.
Hotovely expressed hope that Netanyahu would appoint three female ministers from the Likud and called for him to do so to balance out the three parties that will not have women as ministers.
“It’s his decision,” she emphasized.
According to Hotovely, she deserves to be a minister, because she has added value as a representative of religious Zionism who helped bring 100,000 votes or approximately four Knesset seats from that population group. She also said that while Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and MK Ze’ev Elkin wear crocheted kippot and are “wonderful people,” as immigrants form the former Soviet Union, they did not grow up in the religious-Zionist community as she did.
“[Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] has to set an example. We need more women in the cabinet,” a Likud source said, calling for him to appoint at least one woman from the Likud to a more senior position.
Regev is a former IDF Spokeswoman and chairwoman of the Knesset Interior Committee, which deals with the police, among other issues, and Gamliel and Hotovely both have MAs in law.
The Likud source suggested Netanyahu appoint a woman as public security minister, saying that doing so would be symbolic in light of recent sexual harassment cases in the police.
“What relevant experience does [Interior Minister] Gilad Erdan have?” the source added, referring to talk of him receiving the portfolio.
The Likud source also pointed out that women in the Likud have never been in the Security Cabinet, and that the most senior female Likud minister ever was Limor Livnat, who was education minister from 2001- 2006. The only exception is Livni, who was still in the Likud when she briefly served as justice minister in former prime minister Ariel Sharon’s government.
Unlike Livni, many other Likud MKs and ministers rebelled against his Gaza disengagement plan, and she moved to Kadima when Sharon formed his new party. Regev said she supports “integrating women in all positions and forums.”
“I have the experience [to be in the Security Cabinet], but it’s Netanyahu’s decision,” she added.
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On called the likelihood that no women would be in the cabinet “an outrage.”
“It cannot be that women will not be partners in the most fateful and important decisions, and the Security Cabinet will continue being a closed club for men only, which excludes more than half of the population from its influence on policy and gaining senior positions,” she stated.
Gal-On added that implementing Resolution 1325 is essential, because issues of security and peace are such a large part of the political agenda in Israel.
“At the moment, our reality as women is not designed according to principles that represent us, but by the perceptions of those who claim to speak in our name and decide for us,” she said.
MK Merav Michaeli (Zionist Union) said, “No one should be surprised that the third Netanyahu government authorized Resolution 1325 just so the fourth Netanyahu government can immediately ignore it.
“Resolution 1325 couldn’t be clearer on the importance and necessity of the presence of women in all security, war, and peace issues,” she added.
“Women in Israel carry the security burden at least as much as men do, as soldiers, as citizens and as mothers.”
According to Michaeli,” Netanyahu’s choice to have a boys’ club as a cabinet makes it clear how dismissive he is” of the resolution’s aims.
The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment.