At first glance, social policies intended for women in the Israeli welfare state could be assumed to have played a major role in promoting gender equality. However, a detailed examination of data relating to a variety of aspects of social life indicates that gender inequality is still very much prevalent in Israeli society. In order to understand this gap and its social and ideological roots, the article analyzes the processes through which three key social welfare polices were introduced in Israel, contextualizing their enactment and implementation within the wider social and political context of Israeli society. It highlights the ways in which these social policies reconstruct female exclusion along national, ethnic, and gender lines. This study is set within the context of the theoretical debate regarding the role of the welfare state in the promotion of gender equality. The Israeli case points to the limited ability of the state to become a key source of social change. These limitations originate in structural constructs, ideological conceptions about the roles of men and women, and their relations with the state.