Zevulun Orlev

Zevulun Orlev
Date of birth (1945-11-09) 9 November 1945
Place of birth Rehovot, Mandatory Palestine
Knessets 15, 16, 17, 18
Faction represented in Knesset
1999–2009 National Religious Party
2009–2013 The Jewish Home
Ministerial roles
2003–2004 Minister of Welfare & Social Services

Zevulun Orlev (Hebrew: זבולון אורלב, born 9 November 1945) is an Israeli politician and a former Knesset member, Minister of Welfare & Social Services and leader of the National Religious Party. Orlev is a decorated war hero who received the Medal of Distinguished Service in the Yom Kippur War.


Born in Rehovot during the Mandate era, Orlev studied humanities and social sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, before training to be a teacher at Moreshet Yaakov College. He later worked as Director General of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and Director General of the Ministry of Education and Culture. Orlev lives in Jerusalem's Givat Mordechai neighborhood with his wife, Nira. They have four children.

During his national service in the Israel Defense Forces, he reached the rank of Sergeant. Orlev fought in the Six-Day War, participating in the capture of East Jerusalem. He sustained a knee injury and underwent rehabilitation for two years. During the Yom Kippur War, Orlev served in a stronghold on the Bar-Lev Line. During the Egyptian attack on the first day of the war, Orlev took charge of the soldiers in his outpost after the commander was wounded. Under his command, his unit repelled Egyptian attempts to capture the position, and he organized the evacuation from the stronghold. For this, he was awarded a Medal of Distinguished Service. He later served as a reservist during the 1982 Lebanon War.

Political career

He was first elected to the Knesset in the 1999 elections on the National Religious Party list. After being re-elected in the 2003 elections, Orlev was appointed Minister of Welfare and Social Services in Ariel Sharon's government. During the crisis in the party over the Gaza disengagement plan, Orlev led the camp which believed staying in the government, rather than leaving the coalition, was the best option. In response, NRP leader Effi Eitam called Orlev a "Meimadnik". When Eitam and Yitzhak Levy quit the government in 2004, Orlev and many NRP members refused to leave the coalition. Orlev then succeeded in taking control of the party, resulting in Eitam and Levy leaving to form the Renewed Religious National Zionist Party (later renamed Ahi), which would later join the National Union.

Orlev was re-elected in the 2006 elections. Prior to the 2009 elections the NRP was dissolved and its members joined the Jewish Home. Orlev won second place on the new party's list, and retained his seat in the subsequent elections.

Orlev became known for several controversial statements and legislative proposal. In 2009 the Knesset debated a Private Members Bill proposed by Orlev, providing for imprisonment of anyone who denied that Israel was a Jewish and democratic state. The bill passed its preliminary reading.[1] Orlev was criticized for proposing a bill that would mandate divorced fathers to pay child support until their children reached age 22, though he later retracted and stated he would not pursue the bill.[2] In 2012, he called for the Third Temple to be built in Jerusalem, as well as legislation to protect the project from prosecution and the "hostile, secular, left-wing media".[3] He also proposed a Private Members Bill to override an Israeli Supreme Court ruling ordering the demolition five buildings in an Israeli settlement.[4]

Orlev did not run in the 2013 elections.

He is a co-president of the international Mizrachi movement, which the National Religious Party and its successor Jewish Home represents in the political arena.[5]


  1. Uri Avnery, CounterPunch, 2 June 2009, A Fascist Odor of the New Coalition: Racists for Democracy Archived 7 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. "Dads Confront MK Orlev Over 'Radical Feminism'". Arutz Sheva.
  3. "Jewish Home MK calls for a Third Temple in Jerusalem". The Times of Israel.
  4. "PM pushes off bill to bypass Supreme Court on Ulpana demolition". The Times of Israel.
  5. World Mizrachi Movement Office Bearers Archived 7 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine.

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