Israeli far-right lawmaker Avi Maoz accused the Justice Ministry of attempting to normalize pedophilia within the country by altering Israel's age of consent laws.
Currently, the age of consent in Israel is 16 for all genders. However, that age of consent can go as low as 14, provided the other sexual partner was no more than three years older and both parties consented.
But according to Maoz, the Justice Ministry is trying to change this to an age gap of five years.
"A 19-year-old man can have consensual sexual relations with a 14-year-old girl and won't face criminal charges," Maoz said.
He vowed to prevent this law from passing.
"Pedophilia is a perversion," Maoz said. "Pedophilia is a disgusting phenomenon and I will do everything in my power to make sure the children of Israel are not abandoned because of one agenda or another."
"Pedophilia is a disgusting phenomenon and I will do everything in my power to make sure the children of Israel are not abandoned because of one agenda or another."Avi Maoz
Avi Maoz and pedophilia in Israel
This isn't the first time Maoz has brought up pedophilia as a potential problem facing the Jewish state.
In the speech he gave Tuesday, the Noam MK mentioned how he warned a year and a half ago the State of Israel could legalize pedophilia in the near future, citing examples he claimed were of different countries around the world "weakening" their stances on the issue.
He further cited a new report from the United Nations, which he said called to decriminalize certain sex offenses and mentioned that law enforcement should recognize that people under the age of 18 are able to make decisions about consensual sexual behavior.
Maoz slammed this as "abandoning children in favor of the morbid lusts of adults."
The Noam lawmaker was elected to the Knesset on a platform heavily critical of LGBTQ+ policies and has frequently made critical statements against members of the LGBTQ+ community. This includes saying that he is "filled with shame" over the fact that current Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana is gay.
According to a December 2022 report by Ynet, the Noam Party has been keeping track of LGBTQ+ people working in the Israeli media and keeping a blacklist for several years.
Maoz has also referred to members of the LGBTQ+ community as "perverts and pedophiles."
However, the issue of the age of consent laws is something that is a topic of discussion in countries around the world and spans the political spectrum. It is also one that is often irrelevant to the debate on LGBTQ+ rights.
Israel also has had historic issues regarding pedophilia and sex offenders. According to a 2020 report by the Matzof Association, there are tens of thousands of pedophiles who operate in Israel every year, leading to about 100,000 victims annually.
The vast majority of cases go unreported, Matzof said.
According to a 2020 CBS report alongside Jewish Community Watch, a number of pedophiles in Israel are Jewish immigrants who have sought refuge in the country under the law of return.
One of the most infamous cases is that of Australian haredi school principal Malka Leifer, who fled to Israel after allegations came to light that she sexually abused pupils.
After a long legal battle, Leifer was eventually extradited back to Australia, where she was recently convicted.