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Part 2: The Structure of Government and its Reduction

Areas Discussed

Zehut believes that the method and the organizational structure of the Israeli government requires more than a few repairs and improvements – some specific and some large-scale - that will bear multiple consequences. This platform will not include all the proposals and ideas in this area, but will present those proposals that can be implemented relatively straightforwardly within the framework of the existing structure.

In this part of the platform we will present four super-issues:


Reduction of the state apparatus together with opposition to excessive legislation are two sides of the same coin. Zehut advocates clear and effective governance alongside the expansion of individual and community liberties. Reduction of the state apparatus and excessive legislation is designed not only to improve the efficiency of government and enhance governance, but also to transfer many responsibilities from the government to the public, with the understanding that the deployment of government responsibility in these areas harms the public and is contrary to its benefit.

While the chapter on reduction of the state apparatus and restraint of legislation deals mostly with the framework, the chapter on the community model proposes real change and innovation in the relationship between the citizen and the government. This chapter is the foundation for all the solutions that Zehut offers in the remainder of the platform, and is foundational in Zehut’s view of the world in general. Liberty, identity and meaning can flourish on the basis of a thriving independent community, as it always had been for the People of Israel, and as it should be.

The chapter on the judicial system does not deal with the problems of the Israeli justice system from a professional and clerical perspective, but rather with the judicial branch as one of the main pillars of the Israeli government, and about the relationship between this branch and the executive and legislative branches. Zehut believes that the balance between the branches has been severely breached in recent decades, and that there are significant structural problems that cause this imbalance. The practical steps that Zehut offers in this chapter are key to the successful implementation of the first two chapters, since they are the condition for the return of sovereignty to the public – the only legitimate sovereign in the free and democratic state that Israel wants and needs to be.


Reduction of Government Offices

We do not crown a king initially except to do justice and make war –Maimonides, Mishneh Torah.

The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen” –Dennis Prager.

Government is not the solution; government is the problem –Ronald Reagan.

The Goal: Limited, Representative and Effective Government

Zehut seeks a permanent situation in which the Israeli government is limited as much as possible. This will leave space for maximum freedom of citizens, and will make it possible to serve the citizenry with maximum efficiency in the government’s areas of responsibility. Zehut sees a government with no conflicts of authority and without a complicated and wasteful apparatus: an effective government that can discuss, decide and carry out its policies.

The Current Situation and the Problem of Governance

In the present Israeli government there are 29 government ministries (!) run by 23 government ministers and 8 deputy ministers. This damaging situation is the result of the years-long habit of splitting government ministries, even creating ministries empty of content, or competing for areas within existing ministries – all of this in order to distribute personal and coalition “honors.” It is important to understand that in addition to the large amounts of salary and budget money that these ministries cost us – a problem that other parties have stressed in the past, the deeper problem with the size of government is the problem of difficult governance. Moreover, the habit of increasing government and creating new offices by its nature extends the areas of involvement of government ministries in the citizen’s life and reduces liberty.

Solution: The Structure of Government Proposed by Zehut

Below is a list of ministries that are sufficient in our view for the proper and efficient management of the state. Existing ministries included in whole or in part within other ministries appear in parentheses:

  1. The Office of the Prime Minister (including the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage)

  2. The Ministry of Defense

  3. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora (including the Ministry of Regional Cooperation, the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of the Diaspora)

  4. The Ministry of Justice

  5. The Ministry of the Interior (including the Ministry of Internal Security and the Ministry of Religions)

  6. The Ministry of Education (including the Ministry of Culture and Sport)

  7. The Ministry of Health and Welfare

  8. The Ministry of Finance

  9. The Ministry of the Economy (including all ministries that pertain to the economy: the Ministry of the Economy and Industry, the Ministry of Science, the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Agriculture)

  10. Ministry of Resources and Infrastructure (including the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources, the Ministry of Communications and the Ministry of Transportation and Road Safety)

  11. The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and Housing (including the Ministry of Construction and Housing)


What is Gained by Limited Government?

Governance. This is the main benefit. It is important to understand that the role of a government minister is not to be the representative of special interests in the domain of his ministry before and against the rest of the ministers, regardless of overall public needs. On the contrary, he should govern within the bounds of his ministry, take into account all the considerations relating to his decisions, and balance or choose between them, in the best interest of the public that elected him to serve as its emissary.  This is also the logic behind unifying ministries that may be considered “natural enemies” - such as transportation and infrastructure in relation to environmental protection.

In the current situation, each minister strives for achievements in the small domain of his ministry, and decisions in overlapping domains are reached as a result of bargaining between two or more responsible ministers. In a reduced government apparatus, each ministry will be responsible for a wide range of domains and the minister who heads it will be required to make considerate and balanced decisions.

Efficiency. The multitude of ministries and ministers creates a situation in which it is impossible to hold a substantive and in-depth discussion within the framework of the government, so that the government has to create sub-committees of ministers on a variety of issues. Hardly any real decisions are made at regular meetings of the Government; and they mostly issue press releases. When the government has only ten ministers, it will be possible to clarify inter-governmental issues during regular meetings. The small number of participants will enable all ministers to make their case and show the impact of the issue at hand on their areas of responsibility. The government will be able to make more informed decisions more efficiently.

Liberty. Eliminating unnecessary ministries in and of itself is a central condition for increased liberty, cultural growth, and awareness of civil liberty in areas such as family, community, culture and sports. However, consolidating fragmented ministries also contributes to civil liberty. A minister in charge of this kind of ministry will more easily see where the public interest requires allowing the citizen, or the economy, to act freely, without the government trying to “manage” it. When no new government agencies are created, there will be no necessity to create new and unnecessary responsibilities for them, with all the bureaucracy and the potential for damage and corruption that entails. In addition, ministers in a limited government will have more than enough meaningful work and will have less interest in making unnecessary decisions simply to create headlines.

Money. Of course, beyond governability, efficiency and liberty, a great deal of money would be saved for the state coffers, or even better – money that could remain in the pockets of the citizens – starting with the salaries of ministers, their deputies, managers and their assistants, through the cost of office buildings and their maintenance, and finally and mainly: eliminating the budgets for unneeded ministries.

Committed to Change

It should be clear that eliminating redundant ministries and consolidating existing ministries is not confined to reducing the salaries of ministers and deputy ministers. The in-depth process of consolidating ministries, eliminating redundancy of powers, and releasing areas of bureaucratic “responsibility” back to the public, will involve a reduction of manpower-intensive government systems, will require time for preparation and execution, and will require a demonstration of determination in the face of political and bureaucratic pressure.

Zehut is committed not to settle for the “cosmetic” consolidation of ministries, but is determined to bring efficiency, which is the purpose of all this, to all levels of government bureaucracy. We plan to anchor the distribution of ministries and their authority in Israeli Basic Law and thereby to end the policy of determining the structure of the government in accordance with irrelevant coalition considerations.

How Reduction of the Government will Work – Detail

The Current Distribution of Ministries

The following list shows the disposition of the current 29 ministries.

  • Ministries to Remain:

Prime Minister’s Office, Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Immigrant Absorption.


  • Ministries to be Consolidated:

Ministry of Economy and Industry, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources, Ministry of Science, Technology and Space, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Construction and Housing, Ministry of Welfare and Social Services, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Communications, Ministry of Religious Services, Ministry of the Diaspora, Ministry of Environment and Ministry for Jerusalem and Heritage.


  • Ministries to be Eliminated

Ministry for Regional Development, Ministry of Development of the Negev and Galilee Periphery, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Intelligence, Ministry of Strategic Affairs, Ministry of Information and Ministry for Social Equality.


Eliminating Unnecessary Ministries and Re-incorporating them into Necessary Ministries

The following are ministries that can be eliminated almost completely, and it is clear to all that their initial splitting off or creation was done only to grant jobs for political purposes. A large part of the operation of these ministries is harmful or unnecessary in the first place, and we should eliminate them not only for reasons of governance and budget, but also for material reasons.

  • Ministry of Social Equality” where the few legitimate and necessary domains of practice should be returned to the Ministry of Social Affairs, while most of them should be eliminated.

  • The Ministry of Intelligence and Strategic Issues” which was created and dismantled and created again solely for reasons of personnel, and which creates unnecessary duplication with the Prime Minister’s Office.

  • The existence of separate Ministries of “Peripheral Development, the Negev and Galilee” and “Regional Cooperation” is completely unnecessary. These domains should return to the Prime Minister’s Office, which is responsible for inter-ministerial implementation of government policy.

  • The Ministry of Culture and Sport as a separate ministry really cannot be justified. Its mere existence is harmful to culture and sports, and should therefore be annulled, as detailed in the section dealing with the policy of non-intervention in culture. Its few relevant functions will be returned to the Ministry of Education.


Consolidating Necessary Ministries

As opposed to the previous category, there are many offices that deal with substantive issues. There is no reason, however, for their separate existence, and they will be consolidated under one ministry. They will deal with the full range of responsibilities currently split across the different offices.

  • The Public Security Ministry and the Ministry for Religious Affairs will be merged into the Interior Ministry. The Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs will be merged into the Foreign Ministry. These four offices were consolidated in the past and were separated for irrelevant reasons.

  • Zehut believes in minimal government intervention in the economy. Where it is the role of government to help the economy, it will be the responsibility of a single minister, and not a number of different ministries. Therefore, all ministries dealing with the Israeli economy and industries of all kinds will be reconsolidated under the Ministry of Economy. The Ministry of Economy will include the Ministry of Economy and Industry, the economic component of the Ministry of Science Technology and Space, the Ministry of Tourism, and the Ministry of Agriculture.

  • All national natural resources and the entire national infrastructure will be handled by a single ministry, the Ministry of Resources and Infrastructure. This will make it possible for the combined ministry to fulfill its role in full: to achieve a balance between infrastructure and various national assets, between exploitation and conservation, and to end the harmful conflict between ministers. The new ministry will consolidate the following relevant ministries: the Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources, Ministry of Communications and the Ministry of Environment.

  • The Ministry of Health and Welfare will consolidate all the ministries and authorities dealing with the welfare of the citizen.

  • In Israel, there is a serious housing crisis currently impacting most of the public. This situation is entirely the result of a lack of policies to deal with the real causes of the crisis, and will be detailed in the chapter on housing. In addition, Zehut expects and hopes for a large and welcome wave of Jews returning to their homeland, as well as a wave of returning Israelis. The combination of all these factors will finally require us to present a real solution to the problem of the housing supply in Israel, and that will be the main role of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and the Ministry of Housing, which will be consolidated..

Opposition to Excessive Legislation

There is a perception that the efficacy of Knesset members is measured by the quantity of laws they pass. The most active legislators are perceived to be more involved, more caring, and as public servants who really care about their constituents. They often receive compliments from the media and titles such as “legislative champions.”

Zehut sees things differently. Because the state should minimize its exercise of power over citizens as much possible, the necessity of any law must be examined with maximum care. We do not seek to regulate every aspect of civil life through legislation – quite the opposite. We believe that the state should interfere less and leave as much freedom as possible in the hands of the citizens.

Apart from the harm to liberty and quality of life of the citizens, excessive legislation has additional serious consequences. It may give an unfair advantage to interested parties and cronies at the expense of their competitors and the public. It may harm the economy in ways that are often impossible to predict. It may even create new areas of activity for organized crime. To all this must be added the significant cost of application and enforcement of new laws, a cost which is imposed on taxpayers.

As a consequence of its opposition to excessive legislation, Zehut will carefully weigh all new bills and vote against any bill that has no real need. Likewise, Zehut will act to cancel unnecessary or harmful laws that have already passed.

In addition, we intend to promote a requirement that the cost of any new bill be evaluated by a representative of the Ministry of Finance and presented to the Knesset plenum during the first reading.


The Community Model

Returning Authority to Communities

Since the establishment of the state, one of the most glorious institutions established by the Jewish people has vanished – the institution of the community. The socialist leaders of the state in its early years believed that the citizens of the country must adopt a common culture and shared values ​​and actually become one big community that works toward a common goal. There was no room in their view for anything that was liable to jeopardize this unity, such as small and diverse communities. This view has led the authorities in the country to try and obscure community identities and to force the adoption of the “Israeli identity” that they created in the name of the melting pot idea.

Zehut believes that the national identity of the people of Israel should grow naturally from the bottom-up – from the individuals that make up the nation – and not be dictated from above by the government. The community, therefore, maintains a central role in the design and expression of identity. Just as individual freedoms are the tool by which a person is able to express his or her personal identity and as the state is the tool of expression of national identity, so too the community is the tool of expression of the immediate surrounding, of those who choose to live side-by-side and share a common public space.

The community model is based on this view. As part of the model, local authorities will be divided into small and homogenous communities, and some of the prerogatives of the state and the local authorities will be decentralized and transferred to these local communities. This is to strengthen national identity by strengthening community identity, while at the same time allowing communities to determine for themselves the nature of their public space.

Mutual Respect Rather than Legislative Struggles

The current situation, where use of public space is determined by the state or even by the local authority, creates tension and animosity between different communities and sectors. A community that does not aspire to impose its values ​​on the entire public space through legislation is liable to lose not only the possibility of influencing the character of the entire country, but also the opportunity to shape its immediate environment – a condition that causes all communities to aspire to impose their private beliefs. In this way, determining the nature of public space becomes a zero-sum struggle in which the advancement of one constituency comes at the expense of another. Ironically, a policy meant to unite the people actually causes friction and disunity.

Zehut’s solution is to allow each community to determine the nature of public space within its boundaries, and reduce the ability of people outside the community to influence it. Legislative struggles will cease, and their main cause – fear of loss of community identity – will no longer be relevant. Once the battle is over, tensions between communities in Israel will begin to dissipate and give way to mutual cultural cross-fertilization and common ground, rather than focusing on the need for separation and the struggle against what is different.

Beyond the moral benefit derived from Zehut’s solution, it is also a just and fair solution. The community model will allow local residents, who are the most affected by the nature of public space, to work out agreements among themselves.

The Division into Communities

The entire domain of communities, including division into communities will be the responsibility of the Interior Ministry. The responsibility for creating the initial division into communities will belong to local authorities, with the Interior Minister having the authority to reject proposed divisions. Both the instruction to the Interior Ministry and the language of the law will establish that the division create communities that are as homogeneous as possible. A division made with the intent of decentralizing the power of a particular population and preventing it from uniting as an independent community will be vulnerable to nullification by law either by the Interior Minister or by the court.

Every community will choose its own leadership. The manner of selecting the leadership and its authority shall be determined initially by the Interior Ministry. Later, it will be possible to make changes by means of a vote of community members, subject to approval by the Interior Ministry. This will only apply in cases in which the proposed method and the proposed authorities do not exceed the rules of proper administration and do not harm the representation of the will of the majority in the community. Also, communities will have the option of splitting or uniting with other adjacent communities, subject to a vote of community members and the approval of the Interior Ministry.

The budget for funding the activities of the community leadership will be allocated by the local authority from the proceeds of property tax payments by the community members. Community leaders will receive a budget for the lease of office space and a conference room as well as a limited budget for administrative staff salaries, office equipment and administrative expenses. The leaders themselves will not receive a salary, but will be entitled to reimbursement of expenses for their service to the community, the amount of which will be determined by the Interior Ministry.

Powers of the Community in the Community Model

The community model will allow communities to enact community bylaws, in the same manner that local authorities today are able to legislate municipal bylaws, and they will be enforced in the same way. Like municipal bylaws, community bylaws will also take effect only after they are approved by the leadership of the community and by the Interior Minister. It will not be possible to pass a bylaw that contradicts Israeli law.

Municipal bylaws will apply only to areas not associated with a particular community. Upon their formation, the new communities will inherit the bylaws of the local authority they belong to, which will become community bylaws that may be modified by community leaders. National rules on the use of public spaces that are more appropriately decided on the community level will be eliminated, and sufficient preparation time for interested communities to enact community laws to replace them will be allotted.

In addition to the authority to enact bylaws and the informed cancellation of state laws imposed on them, other significant powers will be transferred to communities. One is the power to set limits on construction in their territory, as specified in the chapter on housing in this platform. The second is the ability to appoint the commander of the local police, as described in the chapter on internal security.

Which Laws will be Adopted at the Community Level?

The laws that will be eliminated on the national and municipal level to make room for their replacement by community bylaws will be laws governing the nature of public space and its use. We will present examples of a small number of decisions that we believe should be determined on a community level.

  • Rules relating to the character of Shabbat. The ongoing debate about the character of Shabbat in Israel will be resolved by each community determining appropriate regulations about the character of the Shabbat in its territory. Laws prohibiting the opening of business on Shabbat and holidays or public transportation on Shabbat and holidays will be canceled and each community can choose whether to accept them in its territory and under what conditions. Of course, all the provisions of Shabbat and Jewish holidays can also be applied to other rest days, as determined by the local community.

  • Noise laws. Rules relating to noise will be made at the local community level, since it is affected by this noise.

  • Art and esthetics. Activities connected to decorations in public spaces, such as planting trees and flowers, as well as the placement of statues and memorial plaques, will require the consent of the community.

  • Stalls, fairs and street performers. Communities can approve, prohibit or set conditions, such as permissible times and locations, for setting up of stalls, holding of fairs and having street performers in the public area.

Of course, these laws are only a few examples of how the powers of the community may be exercised. We intend to allow many other issues concerning public space to be decided in the framework of the local community.

The Judicial System

From Sovereignty of the People to the “Rule of law”– and Back


Democracy: The Sovereignty of the People

Democracy is the rule of the people. The first characteristic of a democracy is that the people govern, expressing their choices, values and culture through the representatives they elect. Democracy is also characterized by the principle of “separation of powers,” which means that the state must maintain a separation between the three branches operating within it: the legislative branch (the Israeli Knesset), the executive branch (the government) and the judicial branch. Each branch is responsible for its domain and is not permitted to interfere in the areas of the others. In this way, the branches are supposed to restrain one another and prevent a single branch from dominating by subsuming all of the power. What is the role of the judicial branch in this careful balance? Montesquieu – the French philosopher who conceived the idea of “separation of powers” at the beginning of the 18th century – argued that the judicial branch should be humble and “the weakest by far” among the branches, because unlike the other two branches, it is not elected by the public. This “modesty” is expressed by restraining its criticism of the other two branches, particularly the legislative branch. Therefore, democratic thinkers developed doctrines of judicial restraint: the court cannot rule on issues that are outside the purview of the judiciary. 

The Rise of Judicial Activism

In the early decades of the State of Israel, the High Court recognized this principle and refrained from interfering in issues of a political or military nature. But since the 1980s, under the leadership of Chief Justice Aharon Barak, the balance between the branches was violated forcefully under the banner of “judicial activism.”  In 1992, a “constitutional revolution” was completed with the enactment of two Basic Laws:


  • Basic Law: “Human Dignity and Liberty”

  • Basic Law: “Freedom of Occupation”

These laws essentially give the court broad operational leeway in subjective legal interpretation that allows it to grossly interfere with the other branches.

As a result, the balance of powers has been blatantly violated. The court and various legal advisors interfere in significant public questions pertaining to policy:

  • Disqualification of laws.

  • Use of the “reasonableness” and “proportionality” tests on many issues.

  • Expanding standing before the court.

  • Outrageous opinions not anchored in law.


All of these constitute a serious blow to the principle of separation of powers, to an extent unparalleled among democratic countries. This has caused actions of elected officials to be blocked, in turn violating the first principle of democracy - rule by the people.


Zehut’s Policy: Back to Sovereignty of the People

Zehut believes that significant public issues and issues of a political or security nature are no place for the interference of the court. Zehut will restore the balance between the branches of government in order to allow the elected authorities to promote policies in accordance with their worldview.

The main laws that have to be passed in order to restore the ability to implement policies to the representatives of the citizens who elected them - without the Supreme Court, Attorney General, and the system of prosecutors exceeding their positions and paralyzing policy, are as follows:

The High Court of Justice

  • “Standing” (the right to petition the High Court) will go back to being applicable only to those who have been directly affected by the events in a particular case or will suffer some actual harm to their own legal interest if the court does not address the problem.

  • The High Court shall not be entitled to give a decision without giving its reasons for it at the same time.

  • The High Court and the Attorney General will have no authority beyond that defined in law.

  • A “ruling” established by the High Court shall be brought to the attention of the Knesset so that it may pass a law to override it.


Disqualification of Laws by the Supreme Court

The High Court (or any other judicial tribunal) will not be permitted to cancel a law passed by the Knesset.

  • If a judge finds that there is a gap or conflict between laws, this must be noted in the judicial ruling so that the Knesset can resolve the contradiction.

  • For the High Court to find that a law passed by the Knesset is inherently unacceptable due to its conflict with prior laws, such action will require absolute majority of two-thirds of all Supreme Court justices in office. In this situation, it will be necessary to reaffirm the law in the Knesset, or to change it legislatively. Until then, the law’s validity would hold.

  • A law re-approved after the High Court made its determination will not be subject to further disqualification by the Supreme Court.


Not “Everything is Justiciable”

  • The State Prosecutor and the military prosecutor do not have the authority to interfere in the process of security decisions and their execution. Their role is to advise before and after security operations, but not during them.

  • Security activities will be subject to operational investigations, which will be judged according to “the Military Justice Law” and public criticism, but there will be no adjudication by the court (the High Court).

  • The court will not be permitted to judge national-cultural issues and security beyond what is defined by law. This is the purview of the public and its elected representatives.

  • Clear rules shall be defined in law for the use of the judicial rationale of “reasonable cause” in order to delineate it.

  • A prosecutor or judge may base advice or a ruling on “international law” only if he or she can show that it relies on an Israeli law or a government decision that binds Israel to an international treaty on the subject.

  • A judge who “interprets” laws in essential contradiction of their meaning, or who decrees penalties which are in essential conflict with the seriousness or triviality of the violations committed, can be summoned to a hearing before the Knesset Constitution Committee, and a special majority of members of the committee will be able afterwards to order his removal from office.

  • A judge who refuses to identify with the anthem and symbols of the State of Israel will be removed from office.


Appointment of Judges

  • Those serving on the Judicial Appointments Committee, in addition to the Justice Minister, will be Knesset members only, elected by all members of the Knesset in a secret ballot.

  • Candidates for district judge or High Court justice will be subject to a public hearing in the Knesset before discussion of their candidacy.

  • The Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice of the High Court will be chosen from among the High Court justices in a secret ballot of the Knesset plenum, after a public hearing.


The Attorney General

  • The functions of the Attorney General and the Chief Prosecutor (State Attorney) will be split and will not be held by the same person.

  • The government shall be entitled to appoint an attorney to represent it in court.

  • The government shall be entitled to appoint and dismiss its legal adviser.

  • The Attorney General’s term will end at the end of the tenure of the government.

  • Elected officials (ministers, mayors) are obligated to act according to the law, but will not be obligated to obey the advice of the Attorney General.

  • The Attorney General may determine “guidelines” only with the approval of the Justice Minister and the Prime Minister.

  • The Attorney General and the Chief Prosecutor will have a “cooling off period” during which they cannot be appointed as justices on the High Court.


Appointment of Senior Public Servants

  • Elected officials shall be entitled to appoint to senior positions and positions of trust whomever they like. They will be able to use a “search committee” and legal counsel, but will not be obligated to abide by their recommendations.

  • No person shall be disqualified as a candidate for a position unless he or she is personally suspected of a crime.

  • The government may appoint officials whose fixed term of office has come to an end (Chief of Staff, etc.) even during an election period.


Criticism of the Judiciary

  • The State Comptroller shall submit to the Knesset and the public an annual report containing statistical information regarding the work and rulings of Israel’s judges and of the State Attorney’s office.


The Status of Jewish Civil Law

  • The Zehut movement will act to deepen ties between Jewish civil law and existing state law by extending the Law of Judicial Foundations of Law, 5740-1980, which establishes a connection between Israeli law and the principles of liberty, justice, honesty and peace in Jewish tradition.

  • The essence of Zehut’s policies in the area of Jewish civil law will be described below in the chapter on Jewish civil law in the section on Judaism, culture, and the state.

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State Apparatux
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