President of Israel

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President of the State of Israel
נשיא מדינת ישראל
رئيس دولة إسرائيل
Presidential Standard of IsraelSquare.svg
Presidential Standard
Reuven Rivlin as the president of Israel.jpg
Reuven Rivlin

since 24 July 2014
Style His Excellency
Residence Beit HaNassi
Appointer Knesset
Term length Seven years, single term
Inaugural holder Chaim Weizmann
Formation16 February 1949
Website Israel presidential website
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This article is part of a series on the
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The President of the State of Israel (Hebrew : נְשִׂיא מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, Nesi Medinat Yisra'el, or Hebrew : נְשִׂיא הַמְדִינָה, Nesi HaMedina, Arabic : رئيس دولة إسرائيل; literally, President of the State) is the head of state of Israel. The position is largely a ceremonial figurehead role, [1] with executive power vested in the Government and the Prime Minister. The current president is Reuven Rivlin, who took office on 24 July 2014. Presidents are elected by the Knesset for a single seven-year term.

Hebrew language Semitic language native to Israel

Hebrew is a Northwest Semitic language native to Israel; the modern version of which is spoken by over 9 million people worldwide. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites and their ancestors, although the language was not referred to by the name Hebrew in the Tanakh. The earliest examples of written Paleo-Hebrew date from the 10th century BCE. Hebrew belongs to the West Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Hebrew is the only living Canaanite language left, and the only truly successful example of a revived dead language.

A head of state is the public persona who officially represents the national unity and legitimacy of a sovereign state. Depending on the country's form of government and separation of powers, the head of state may be a ceremonial figurehead or concurrently the head of government. In a parliamentary system the head of state is the de jure leader of the nation, and there is a separate de facto leader, often with the title of prime minister. In contrast, a semi-presidential system has both heads of state and government as the leaders de facto of the nation.

Israel country in the Middle East

Israel, officially the State of Israel, is a country in Western Asia, located on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea. It has land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the east and west, respectively, and Egypt to the southwest. The country contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. Israel's economic and technological center is Tel Aviv, while its seat of government and proclaimed capital is Jerusalem, although the state's sovereignty over Jerusalem has only partial recognition.


The President of Israel is elected by an absolute majority in the Knesset, by secret ballot. If no candidate has received an absolute majority of votes by the first round of voting, a second round, in which only the two most-voted candidates in the first round may participate, is held; the top vote-getter in the second round is the winner. From 1949 to 2000, the president was elected for a five-year term, and was allowed to serve up to two terms in office. Since 2000, the president serves a single seven-year term.

Knesset legislature of Israel

The Knesset is the unicameral national legislature of Israel. As the legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister, approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government. In addition, the Knesset elects the State Comptroller. It also has the power to waive the immunity of its members, remove the President and the State Comptroller from office, dissolve the government in a constructive vote of no confidence, and to dissolve itself and call new elections. The Prime Minister may also dissolve the Knesset. However, until an election is completed, the Knesset maintains authority in its current composition. The Knesset is located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.

Secret ballot voting style that makes each vote anonymous

The secret ballot, also known as Australian ballot, is a voting method in which a voter's choices in an election or a referendum are anonymous, forestalling attempts to influence the voter by intimidation, blackmailing, and potential vote buying. The system is one means of achieving the goal of political privacy.

Any Israeli resident citizen is eligible to run for President. The office falls vacant upon completion of a term, death, resignation, or the decision of three-quarters of the Knesset to remove the president on grounds of misconduct or incapacity. Presidential tenure is not keyed to that of the Knesset, in order to assure continuity in government and the non-partisan character of the office. There is no vice president in the Israeli governmental system. If the president is temporarily incapacitated, or leaves office, the speaker of the Knesset becomes acting president.

A vice president is an officer in government or business who is below a president in rank. It can also refer to executive vice presidents, signifying that the vice president is on the executive branch of the government, university or company. The name comes from the Latin vice meaning "in place of". In some countries, the vice president is called the deputy president. In everyday speech, the abbreviation VP can be used.

In law, when someone is said to be acting in a position it can mean that, the position has not yet been formally created, the person is only occupying the position temporarily to ensure continuity, or the person does not have a mandate.

The first presidential election took place on 16 February 1949, and the winner was Chaim Weizmann. The second took place in 1951, as at the time presidential terms were linked to the length of the Knesset term (the first Knesset lasted only two years). Another election took place the following year after Weizmann's death.

Chaim Weizmann 19th and 20th-century Zionist leader and first president of Israel

Chaim Azriel Weizmann was a Zionist leader and Israeli statesman who served as President of the Zionist Organization and later as the first President of Israel. He was elected on 16 February 1949, and served until his death in 1952. Weizmann convinced the United States government to recognize the newly formed state of Israel.

Since then, elections have been held in 1957, 1962, 1963 (an early election following Yitzhak Ben-Zvi's death), 1968, 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2000, 2007, and 2014. Six elections (1951, 1957, 1962, 1968, 1978, and 1988) have taken place with no opposition candidate, although a vote was still held.

Yitzhak Ben-Zvi Israeli politician, 2nd president of Israel

Yitzhak Ben-Zvi was a historian, Labor Zionist leader and the second and longest-serving President of Israel.

Powers and responsibilities

Office of the President of Israel (2007) Office of the President of Israel by David Shankbone.jpg
Office of the President of Israel (2007)

The powers of the President of Israel are generally equivalent to those held by heads of state in other parliamentary democracies and are largely dictated by Basic Law: The Presidency, [2] which was passed in 1964. [3] The Basic Law: The Government also includes sections on the powers of the president with reference to the government. [2] The president signs every law (except those that pertain to the president's powers) and international or bilateral treaties approved by the Knesset. [2] In addition, the president endorses the credentials of ambassadors and receives the credentials of foreign diplomats, appoints the Governor of the Bank of Israel, the State Comptroller upon recommendation of the Knesset House Committee, members of the Council on Higher Education, the National Academy of Science, the Broadcasting Authority, the Authority to Rehabilitate Prisoners, the Chief Rabbinical Council, the Wolf Foundation, the president of Magen David Adom, the president of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and ceremonially appoints the Prime Minister. The president also has the power to pardon or commute the sentences of both soldiers and civilians, and ceremonially appoints judges to courts, including the Supreme Court, after appointment by the Judicial Selection Committee.

In addition, paragraph 29a of The Government basic law also states that the president must consent to the dissolution of the Knesset at the request of the Prime Minister when the government has lost its majority and can therefore no longer function effectively. [2]

Unlike most presidents in parliamentary republics, the President of Israel is not even the nominal chief executive. Basic Law: The Government explicitly vests executive power in the Government (as the Cabinet is officially called). Presidential powers are usually exercised based on the recommendation of appropriate government ministers.

The president's most important role, in practice, is to help lead the process of forming a government. Israel's electoral system and fractured political landscape make it all but impossible for one party to govern alone, let alone win an outright majority of Knesset seats. After each election, the president consults with party leaders to determine who is most likely to command a majority in the Knesset.

Other roles

The president awards the Israel Prize on Yom Ha'atzmaut and the Wolf Prize. The president also serves as the main speaker at the opening ceremonies of the half-yearly Knesset conference, as well as at the annual official ceremonies for Yom Hazikaron and Yom HaShoah.

Presidential backgrounds

Most Israeli presidents were involved in national politics or Zionist activities before taking office. Some were also distinguished in other fields. For example, Chaim Weizmann was a leading research chemist who founded the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot; Zalman Shazar was an author, poet, and journalist; and Chaim Herzog was a military leader, attorney, and diplomat.

The first Israeli presidents were born in the former Russian Empire, which was true of much of the leadership in the early days of the state. The first native-born president, as well as the first with a Sephardi background, was Yitzhak Navon. The first president with a Western European background was Chaim Herzog, who originally came from Belfast, United Kingdom. The first president with a Mizrahi background was Moshe Katsav, who was born in Iran.

Political affiliation

All Israeli presidents from Yitzhak Ben-Zvi to Ezer Weizman were members of, or associated with, the Labor Party and its predecessors, and have been considered politically moderate. Moshe Katsav was the first Likud president. These tendencies were especially significant in the April 1978 election of Labor's Yitzhak Navon, following the inability of the governing Likud coalition to elect its candidate to the presidency. Israeli observers believed that,[ citation needed ] in counterbalance to Prime Minister Menachem Begin's polarizing leadership, Navon, the country's first president of Sephardi origin, provided Israel with unifying symbolic leadership at a time of great political controversy and upheaval. In 1983, Navon decided to re-enter Labor politics after five years of non-partisan service as president, and Chaim Herzog (previously head of military intelligence and Ambassador of Israel to the United Nations) succeeded him as Israel's sixth president. Likud's Moshe Katsav's victory over Labor's Shimon Peres in 2000 (by secret ballot) was an upset.

Albert Einstein, a Jew, but not an Israeli citizen, was offered the presidency in 1952, [4] but turned it down, stating: "I am deeply moved by the offer from our State of Israel, and at once saddened and ashamed that I cannot accept it. All my life I have dealt with objective matters, hence I lack both the natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people and to exercise official functions." [5] Ehud Olmert was reported to be considering offering the presidency to another non-Israeli, Elie Wiesel, but he was said to be "very not interested". [6]

List of Presidents of the State of Israel

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2007 Israeli presidential election presidential election

Indirect presidential elections were held in Israel on 13 June 2007. The Knesset elected Shimon Peres, a former Prime Minister and a member of the Kadima party. His opponents were Reuven Rivlin, a former Knesset speaker, of the Likud Party, and Colette Avital, of the Labor party. After the first round of voting put Peres in a commanding lead, but just short of the absolute majority required for election, Rivlin and Avital bowed out and Peres was elected easily in the second round.

1952 Israeli presidential election

An election to choose the second President of Israel was held in the Knesset on 8 December 1952 following the death of the Israel's first president, Chaim Weizmann on 9 November. Between Weizmann's death and the winner of the election, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, taking office on 16 December, Knesset speaker Yosef Sprinzak served as acting president.

Twenty-third government of Israel

The twenty-third government of Israel was formed by Yitzhak Shamir of Likud on 22 December 1988, following the November 1988 elections. The government remained a national unity coalition between Likud and the Alignment, with the National Religious Party, Shas, Agudat Yisrael and Degel HaTorah also being members of the coalition. It was the first government to have a Minister of the Environment.

Beit HaNassi official home of the President of Israel

Beit HaNassi (Hebrew: בֵּית הַנָּשִׂיא, also known as Mishkan HaNassi is the official residence of the President of Israel. It is located in the Talbiya neighborhood of Jerusalem.

Events in the year 1983 in Israel.

Events in the year 1952 in Israel.

1978 Israeli presidential election

Elections for the President of Israel were held in the Knesset on 19 April 1978. Ephraim Katzir, who was elected in 1973, declined to stand for a second term due to his wife's illness at the time. Yitzhak Navon ran unopposed for the position.

1983 Israeli presidential election

Elections for the President of Israel were held in the Knesset on 22 March 1983. Yitzhak Navon, who was elected in 1978, turned down the opportunity to run for a second term of office. Chaim Herzog was elected by the Knesset to serve as the sixth President of Israel, by a vote of 61 to 57, against Menachem Elon, the candidate of the right and the government coalition. Herzog's term began on 5 May. He would hold this position until 1993, when Ezer Weizman was elected President.

1993 Israeli presidential election

Elections for the President of Israel were held in the Knesset on 24 March 1993, following the end of Chaim Herzog's second five-year term in office. Ezer Weizman, former Israeli Air Force commander and Defense Minister of Israel, ran against Dov Shilansky, a Likud politician. The Knesset elected Weizman, by a majority of 66 to 53 to serve as the next President of Israel. He assumed office as President on 13 May 1993.

2000 Israeli presidential election

Elections for the President of Israel were held in the Knesset on 31 July 2000, following Ezer Weizman's resignation. Moshe Katsav, a prominent Likud politician, ran against Shimon Peres, a previous Prime Minister of Israel. In a surprising upset, the Knesset elected Katsav, by 63 to 57. Katsav assumed office as President on 1 August 2000. He was the first President of Israel to have been sworn in for a seven-year term, as well as the first candidate from the right-wing Likud party to be elected to the office.


  1. The Presidency in Israel President of Israel.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "The Function and Purpose of the Presidency". Office of the President of Israel.
  3. "The Existing Basic Laws: Full Texts". Knesset (parliament of Israel).
  4. Eban, Abba (17 November 1952). "(Letter reprinted online) Offering the Presidency of Israel to Albert Einstein". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  5. "Albert Einstein on His Decision Not to Accept the Presidency of Israel". citing The Einstein Scrapbook (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002). Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  6. Stern Stern Hoffman, Gil; Keinon, Herb (18 October 2006). "Olmert backs Peres as next president". Jerusalem Post .