Prime Minister of Israel

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Prime Minister of Israel
רֹאשׁ הַמֶּמְשָׁלָה
Flag of the Prime Minister of Israel.svg
Flag of the Prime Minister of Israel [1]
Benjamin Netanyahu 2018.jpg
Incumbent
Benjamin Netanyahu

since 31 March 2009
Prime Minister's Office
Style His Excellency
Residence Beit Aghion
Nominator Knesset
Appointer President of Israel
Term length 4 years (maximum)
Inaugural holder David Ben-Gurion
Formation14 May 1948
Deputy Deputy Prime Minister
Website pmo.gov.il

The Prime Minister of Israel (Hebrew : רֹאשׁ הַמֶּמְשָׁלָה, Rosh HaMemshala, lit. Head of the Government, Hebrew acronym: רה״מ; Arabic : رئيس الحكومة, Ra'īs al-Ḥukūma) is the head of government and chief executive of Israel.

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.

The head of government is either the highest or second highest official in the executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, who often presides over a cabinet, a group of ministers or secretaries who lead executive departments. "Head of government" is often differentiated from "head of state", as they may be separate positions, individuals, or roles depending on the country.

Israel country in the Middle East

Israel, also known as 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.

Contents

Israel is a republic with a President as head of state. However, the President's powers are largely ceremonial; the Prime Minister holds the real power. The official residence of the Prime Minister, Beit Aghion, is in Jerusalem. The current Prime Minister is Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud, the ninth person to hold the position (excluding caretakers).

President of Israel position

The President of the State of Israel is the head of state of Israel. The position is largely a ceremonial figurehead role, 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.

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.

Beit Aghion

Beit Aghion, also known as Beit Rosh HaMemshala is the official residence of the Prime Minister of Israel. It is located at 9 Smolenskin Street, on the street corner of Balfour Street in the upscale Jerusalem neighborhood of Rehavia, situated between the city center and Talbiya neighborhood.

Following an election, the President nominates a member of the Knesset to become Prime Minister after asking party leaders whom they support for the position. The nominee has 42 days to put together a viable coalition. He then presents a government platform and must receive a vote of confidence from the Knesset in order to become Prime Minister. In practice, the Prime Minister is usually the leader of the largest party in the governing coalition. Between 1996 and 2001, the Prime Minister was directly elected, separately from the Knesset. [2]

Knesset legislature of Israel

The Knesset (Hebrew: הַכְּנֶסֶת[ha 'kneset]; lit. "the gathering" or "assembly" 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. The Knesset was temporarily dissolved on 30 May 2019.

Unlike most prime ministers in parliamentary republics, the Prime Minister is both de jure and de facto chief executive. This is because the Basic Laws of Israel explicitly vest executive power in the government, of which the Prime Minister is the leader.

In law and government, de jure describes practices that are legally recognised, regardless whether the practice exists in reality. In contrast, de facto describes situations that exist in reality, even if not legally recognised. The terms are often used to contrast different scenarios: for a colloquial example, "I know that, de jure, this is supposed to be a parking lot, but now that the flood has left four feet of water here, it's a de facto swimming pool". To further explain, even if the signs around the flooded parking lot say "Parking Lot" it is "in fact" a swimming pool.

In law and government, de facto describes practices that exist in reality, even if not officially recognized by laws. It is commonly used to refer to what happens in practice, in contrast with de jure, which refers to things that happen according to law. Unofficial customs that are widely accepted are sometimes called de facto standards.

Basic Laws of Israel

The Basic Laws of Israel are the constitutional laws of the State of Israel, and can only be changed by a supermajority vote in the Knesset. Many of these laws are based on the individual liberties that were outlined in the Israeli Declaration of Independence. The Basic Laws deal with the formation and role of the principal institutions of the state, and with the relations between the state's authorities. They also protect the country's civil rights, although some of these rights were earlier protected at common law by the Supreme Court of Israel. The Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty enjoys super-legal status, giving the Supreme Court the authority to disqualify any law contradicting it, as well as protection from Emergency Regulations.

History

The office of Prime Minister came into existence on 14 May 1948, the date of the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, when the provisional government was created. David Ben-Gurion, leader of Mapai and head of the Jewish Agency, became Israel's first Prime Minister. The position became permanent on 8 March 1949, when the first government was formed. Ben-Gurion retained his role until late 1953, when he resigned in order to settle in the Kibbutz of Sde Boker. He was replaced by Moshe Sharett. However, Ben-Gurion returned in a little under two years to reclaim his position. He resigned for a second time in 1963, breaking away from Mapai to form Rafi. Levi Eshkol took over as head of Mapai and prime minister. He became the first Prime Minister to head the country under the banner of two parties when Mapai formed the Alignment with Ahdut HaAvoda in 1965. In 1968 he also became the only party leader to command an absolute majority in the Knesset, after Mapam and Rafi merged into the Alignment, giving it 63 seats in the 120-seat Knesset.

David Ben-Gurion Israeli politician, Zionist leader, prime minister of Israel

David Ben-Gurion was the primary national founder of the State of Israel and the first Prime Minister of Israel.

Mapai was a centre-left political party in Israel, and was the dominant force in Israeli politics until its merger into the modern-day Israeli Labor Party in 1968. During Mapai's time in office, a wide range of progressive reforms were carried out, as characterised by the establishment of a welfare state, providing minimum income, security, and free access to housing subsidies and health and social services.

1949 Israeli legislative election Elections for the first Israeli Knesset

Elections for the Constituent Assembly were held in newly independent Israel on 25 January 1949. Voter turnout was 86.9%. Two days after its first meeting on 14 February 1949, legislators voted to change the name of the body to the Knesset. It is known today as the First Knesset.

On 26 February 1969, Eshkol became the first Prime Minister to die in office, and was temporarily replaced by Yigal Allon. However, Allon's stint lasted less than a month, as the party persuaded Golda Meir to return to political life and become prime minister in March 1969. Meir was Israel's first woman prime minister, and the third in the world (after Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Indira Gandhi).

Yigal Allon Israeli politician, general, acting prime minister of Israel

Yigal Allon was an Israeli politician, a commander of the Palmach, and a general in the IDF. He served as one of the leaders of Ahdut HaAvoda party and the Israeli Labor party, and acting Prime Minister of Israel. He was a Knesset member and government minister from the third Knesset to the ninth inclusive.

Golda Meir fourth prime minister of Israel

Golda Meir was an Israeli teacher, kibbutznik, stateswoman, politician and the fourth Prime Minister of Israel.

Sirimavo Bandaranaike Sri Lankan politician

Sirima Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike, commonly known as Sirimavo Bandaranaike, was a Sri Lankan stateswoman. She became the world's first non-hereditary female head of government in modern history, when she was elected Prime Minister of Sri Lanka in 1960. She served three terms: 1960–1965, 1970–1977 and 1994–2000.

Meir resigned in 1974 after the Agranat Commission published its findings on the Yom Kippur War, even though it had absolved her of blame. Yitzhak Rabin took over, though he also resigned towards the end of the eighth Knesset's term following a series of scandals. Those included the suicide of Housing Minister Avraham Ofer after police began investigating allegations that he had used party funds illegally, and the affair involving Asher Yadlin (the Governor-designate of the Bank of Israel), who was sentenced to five years in prison for having accepted bribes. Rabin's wife, Leah, was also found to have had an overseas bank account, which was illegal in Israel at the time.

Menachem Begin became the first right-wing prime minister when his Likud won the 1977 elections, and retained the post in the 1981 elections. He resigned in 1983 for health reasons, passing the reins of power to Yitzhak Shamir.

After the 1984 elections had proved inconclusive with neither the Alignment nor Likud able to form a government, a national unity government was formed with a rotating prime ministership – Shimon Peres took the first two years, and was replaced by Shamir midway through the Knesset term.

Although the 1988 elections produced another national unity government, Shamir was able to take the role alone. Peres made an abortive bid to form a left-wing government in 1990, but failed, leaving Shamir in power until 1992.

Rabin became prime minister for the second time when he led Labour to victory in the 1992 elections. After his assassination on 4 November 1995, Peres took over as prime minister.

Direct election

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During the thirteenth Knesset (1992–1996) it was decided to hold a separate ballot for prime minister modeled after American presidential elections. This system was instituted in part because the Israeli electoral system makes it all but impossible for one party to win a majority. While only two parties—Mapai/Labour and Likud—had ever led governments, the large number of parties or factions in a typical Knesset usually prevents one party from winning the 61 seats needed for a majority.

In 1996, when the first such election took place, the outcome was a surprise win for Benjamin Netanyahu after election polls predicted that Peres was the winner. [3] However, in the Knesset election held at the same time, Labour won more votes than any other party (27%). Thus Netanyahu, despite his theoretical position of power, needed the support of the religious parties to form a viable government.

Ultimately Netanyahu failed to hold the government together, and early elections for both prime minister and the Knesset were called in 1999. Although five candidates announced their intention to run, the three representing minor parties (Benny Begin of Herut – The National Movement, Azmi Bishara of Balad and Yitzhak Mordechai of the Centre Party) dropped out before election day, and Ehud Barak beat Netanyahu in the election. However, the new system again appeared to have failed; although Barak's One Israel alliance (an alliance of Labour, Gesher and Meimad) won more votes than any other party in the Knesset election, they garnered only 26 seats, the lowest ever by a winning party or alliance. Barak needed to form a coalition with six smaller parties in order to form a government.

In early 2001, Barak resigned following the outbreak of the al-Aqsa Intifada. However, the government was not brought down, and only elections for prime minister were necessary. In the election itself, Ariel Sharon of Likud comfortably beat Barak, taking 62.4% of the vote. However, because Likud only had 21 seats in the Knesset, Sharon had to form a national unity government. Following Sharon's victory, it was decided to do away with separate elections for prime minister and return to the previous system.

2003 onwards

The 2003 elections were carried out in the same manner as prior to 1996. Likud won 38 seats, the highest by a party for over a decade, and as party leader Sharon was duly appointed PM. However, towards the end of his term and largely as a result of the deep divisions within Likud over Israel's unilateral disengagement plan, Sharon broke away from his party to form Kadima, managing to maintain his position as prime minister and also becoming the first prime minister not to be a member of either Labour or Likud (or their predecessors). However, he suffered a stroke in January 2006, in the midst of election season, leading Ehud Olmert to become acting prime minister in the weeks leading to the elections. He was voted by the cabinet to be interim prime minister just after the 2006 elections, when Sharon had reached 100 days of incapacitation. He thus became Israel's third interim prime minister, only days before forming his own new government as the official Prime Minister of Israel.

In 2008, amid accusations of corruption and challenges from his own party, Olmert announced that he would resign. However his successor Tzipi Livni was unable to form a coalition government. In the election in the following year, while Kadima won the most seats, it was the Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu who was given the task of forming a government. He was able to do so, thus beginning his second term as Prime Minister of Israel.

In the 2013 election, the Likud Yisrael Beiteinu alliance emerged as the largest faction. After forming a coalition, Netanyahu secured his third prime ministership.

Order of succession

If the prime minister dies in office, the cabinet chooses an interim prime minister [4] to run the government until a new government is placed in power. Yigal Allon served as interim prime minister following Levi Eshkol's death, as did Shimon Peres following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

According to Israeli law, if a prime minister is temporarily incapacitated rather than dies (as was the case following Ariel Sharon's stroke in early 2006), power is transferred to the acting prime minister, until the prime minister recovers (Ehud Olmert took over from Sharon), for up to 100 days. If the prime minister is declared permanently incapacitated, or that period expires, the President of Israel oversees the process of assembling a new governing coalition, and in the meantime the acting prime minister or other incumbent minister is appointed by the cabinet to serve as interim prime minister.

In the case of Sharon, elections were already due to occur within 100 days of the beginning of his coma; thus, the post-election coalition-building process pre-empted the emergency provisions for the selection of a new prime minister. Nevertheless, Olmert was appointed interim prime minister on 16 April 2006, after the elections, just days before he had formed a government on 4 May 2006, to become the official prime minister.

Acting, Vice and Deputy Prime Minister

Aside from the position of Acting Prime Minister, there are also Vice Prime Ministers and Deputy Prime Ministers.

Interim government

Prime Minister's residence

During his term of office, the prime minister lives in Jerusalem. Since 1974, the official residence of the prime minister is Beit Aghion, at the corner of Balfour and Smolenskin streets in Rehavia. [5]

List of Prime Ministers of Israel

Term of office in years

List of Prime Ministers by longevity

See also

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References

  1. Flags of the Israel Defense Forces
  2. Basic Law: The Government (2001) Sections 7a, 13d.
  3. Prime Minister Netanyahu. Remember? Maariv, 30 August 2005
  4. Q&A: Israel's political future BBC News, 11 January 2006
  5. From modesty to monstrosity Haaretz, 1 May 2009

Further reading