1 The National Health Insurance Law (1994) provides universal cover-
age for all resident Israelis, both Jewish and Palestinian. However,
while Jewish residents of the Occupied Territories are covered by this
law, Palestinian residents are not. The law guarantees that every Is-
raeli citizen has the right to receive healthcare and obligates health
funds to accept all applicants as members and to provide them with
a basic basket of services. For more information on the guarantee
of subsidies for fertility treatment see appendix B of the National
Health Insurance Law.
2 Abortion is subsidized for those under seventeen or over forty, in
cases in which the pregnancies are the result of rape or incest, the
pregnancy is considered life-threatening for the woman, or the fetus
is suspected to be malformed physically or mentally. These regu-
lations make it difficult for healthy women to receive abortions;
those who seek an abortion and who do not meet the above criteria
must have their cases reviewed and approved by a professionally
appointed health committee and must pay for the abortion out of
For an interesting discussion of abortion legislation in Israel and its
social effects see Amir and Navon 1989: 13–69.
3 Indeed, according to traditional Jewish law (Halakha), a Jewish man
must divorce his wife if she fails to bear him children after ten years of
4 Nira Yuval-Davis suggests that ‘‘the emotional needs of a people in a
permanent war society, where husbands and sons might get killed at
any moment, and cultural familial traditions probably play a more
central role [in the decision to have children in Israel] than anything
else’’ (1987: 85). She quotes Geula Cohen, a former right-wing Knes-
set member, who elaborates on this concept of a ‘‘permanent war
society’’ and the role of Jewish mothers in it: ‘‘The Israeli woman is an
organic part of the family of the Jewish people and the female con-
stitutes a practical symbol for that. But she is a wife and a mother in
Israel, and therefore it is of her nature to be a soldier, a wife of a
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