Prime Minister of Israel

Prime Minister of Israel

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The Prime Minister of Israel is the head of the Israeli government and the most powerful political figure in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 (the position of President of Israel
President of Israel
The President of the State of Israel is the head of state of Israel. The position is largely an apolitical ceremonial figurehead role, with the real executive power lying in the hands of the Prime Minister. The current president is Shimon Peres who took office on 15 July 2007...

 is largely honorary). The prime minister is the country's chief executive. The official residence of the prime minister, Beit Rosh Hamemshala
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...

is in Jerusalem. The current prime minister is Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu is the current Prime Minister of Israel. He serves also as the Chairman of the Likud Party, as a Knesset member, as the Health Minister of Israel, as the Pensioner Affairs Minister of Israel and as the Economic Strategy Minister of Israel.Netanyahu is the first and, to...

 of Likud
Likud
Likud is the major center-right political party in Israel. It was founded in 1973 by Menachem Begin in an alliance with several right-wing and liberal parties. Likud's victory in the 1977 elections was a major turning point in the country's political history, marking the first time the left had...

, the ninth person to hold the position (excluding caretakers).

Following an election, the President nominates a member of the Knesset
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :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...

 to become prime minister after asking party leaders whom they support for the position. The nominee then presents a government platform and must receive a vote of confidence in order to become prime minister. Between 1996 and 2001, the Prime Minister was directly elected, separately from the Knesset.

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
Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel
The Israeli Declaration of Independence , made on 14 May 1948 , the day before the British Mandate was due to expire, was the announcement by David Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization and chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, that the new Jewish state named the...

, when the provisional government was created. David Ben-Gurion
David Ben-Gurion
' was the first Prime Minister of Israel.Ben-Gurion's passion for Zionism, which began early in life, led him to become a major Zionist leader and Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization in 1946...

, leader of Mapai
Mapai
Mapai was a left-wing political party in Israel, and was the dominant force in Israeli politics until its merger into the Israeli Labor Party in 1968...

 and head of the Jewish Agency became Israel's first Prime Minister. The position became permanent on 8 March 1949, when the first government
Israeli legislative election, 1949
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...

 was formed. Ben-Gurion retained his role until late 1953, when he resigned in order to settle in the Kibbutz
Kibbutz
A kibbutz is a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. Today, farming has been partly supplanted by other economic branches, including industrial plants and high-tech enterprises. Kibbutzim began as utopian communities, a combination of socialism and Zionism...

 of Sde Boker
Sde Boker
Sde Boker is a kibbutz in the Negev desert of southern Israel. Best known as the retirement home of Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, it falls under the jurisdiction of Ramat HaNegev Regional Council.-History:...

. He was replaced by Moshe Sharett
Moshe Sharett
Moshe Sharett on 15 October 1894, died 7 July 1965) was the second Prime Minister of Israel , serving for a little under two years between David Ben-Gurion's two terms.-Early life:...

. 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
Levi Eshkol
' served as the third Prime Minister of Israel from 1963 until his death from a heart attack in 1969. He was the first Israeli Prime Minister to die in office.-Biography:...

 took over as head of Mapai
Mapai
Mapai was a left-wing political party in Israel, and was the dominant force in Israeli politics until its merger into the Israeli Labor Party in 1968...

 and prime minister. He became the first prime minister to head the country under the banner of two parties when Mapai formed the Alignment
Alignment (political party)
The Alignment was an alliance of the major left-wing parties in Israel between the 1960s and 1990s. It was established in 1965 as an alliance of Mapai and Ahdut HaAvoda but was dissolved three years later when the two parties and Rafi formally merged into the Israeli Labor Party...

 with Ahdut HaAvoda
Ahdut HaAvoda
Ahdut HaAvoda was the name used by a sequence of political parties that existed firstly during Mandate Palestine and later in Israel. Its original version, led by David Ben-Gurion, is one of the main ancestors of the modern-day Israeli Labor Party....

 in 1965. In 1968 he also became the only party leader to command an absolute majority in the Knesset, after Mapam
Mapam
Mapam was a political party in Israel and is one of the ancestors of the modern-day Meretz party.-History:Mapam was formed by a January 1948 merger of the Hashomer Hatzair Workers Party and Ahdut HaAvoda Poale Zion Movement. The party was originally Marxist-Zionist in its outlook and represented...

 and Rafi merged into the Alignment, giving it 63 seats in the 120-seat Knesset.

On 26 February 1969, Eshkol became the first prime minister to die in office, and was temporarily replaced by Yigal Allon
Yigal Allon
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, and was a member of the Knesset and government minister from the 10th through the...

. However, Allon's stint lasted less than a month, as the party persuaded Golda Meir
Golda Meir
Golda Meir ; May 3, 1898 – December 8, 1978) was a teacher, kibbutznik and politician who became the fourth Prime Minister of the State of Israel....

 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
Sirimavo Bandaranaike
Sirimavo Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike was a Sri Lankan politician and the world's first female head of government...

 and Indira Gandhi
Indira Gandhi
Indira Priyadarshini Gandhara was an Indian politician who served as the third Prime Minister of India for three consecutive terms and a fourth term . She was assassinated by Sikh extremists...

).

Meir resigned in 1974 after the Agranat Commission
Agranat Commission
The Agranat Commission was a National Commision of Inquiry set up to investigate failings in the Israel Defense Forces in the prelude to the Yom Kippur War, when Israel was found unprepared for the Egyptian attack against the Bar Lev Line and a simultaneous attack by Syria in the Golan — the first...

 published its findings on the Yom Kippur War
Yom Kippur War
The Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War or October War , also known as the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and the Fourth Arab-Israeli War, was fought from October 6 to 25, 1973, between Israel and a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria...

, even though it had absolved her of blame. Yitzhak Rabin
Yitzhak Rabin
' was an Israeli politician, statesman and general. He was the fifth Prime Minister of Israel, serving two terms in office, 1974–77 and 1992 until his assassination in 1995....

 took over, though he also resigned towards the end of the eighth Knesset's
Israeli legislative election, 1973
The Elections for the eighth Knesset were held on 31 December 1973. Voter turnout was 78.6%.-Results:1 Aryeh Eliav left the Alignment and merged with Ratz to form Ya'ad - Civil Rights Movement...

 term following a series of scandals including the suicide of Housing Minister Avraham Ofer
Avraham Ofer
Avraham Ofer was an Israeli politician, famous for committing suicide following the eruption of a corruption scandal.- Biography :Ofer was born in the Khorostkov shtetl in Poland in 1922, and immigrated to Mandate Palestine in 1933. He went to High School in Jerusalem and studied in the Hebrew...

 after police began investigating allegations he used party funds illegally, and Asher Yadlin (the governor-designate of the Bank of Israel) being sentenced to five years in prison
Yadlin affair
The Yadlin Affair refers to a political corruption scandal that broke in Israel in 1976, involving senior members of the Labor Party...

 for accepting bribes. Rabin's wife, Leah, was also found to have an overseas bank account
Dollar Account affair
The Dollar Account affair was a political scandal in Israel in 1977, following the exposure of an illegal US Dollar bank account held by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and his wife Leah...

, which was illegal in Israel at the time.

Menachem Begin
Menachem Begin
' was a politician, founder of Likud and the sixth Prime Minister of the State of Israel. Before independence, he was the leader of the Zionist militant group Irgun, the Revisionist breakaway from the larger Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah. He proclaimed a revolt, on 1 February 1944,...

 became the first right-wing
Right-wing politics
In politics, Right, right-wing and rightist generally refer to support for a hierarchical society justified on the basis of an appeal to natural law or tradition. To varying degrees, the Right rejects the egalitarian objectives of left-wing politics, claiming that the imposition of equality is...

 prime minister when his Likud
Likud
Likud is the major center-right political party in Israel. It was founded in 1973 by Menachem Begin in an alliance with several right-wing and liberal parties. Likud's victory in the 1977 elections was a major turning point in the country's political history, marking the first time the left had...

 won the 1977 elections
Israeli legislative election, 1977
The Elections for the ninth Knesset were held on 17 May 1977. For the first time in Israeli political history, the right-wing, led by Likud, won the election, ending almost 30 years of rule by the left-wing Alignment and its predecessor, Mapai...

, and retained the post in the 1981 elections
Israeli legislative election, 1981
Elections for the tenth Knesset were held in Israel on 30 June 1981. Despite last minute polls suggesting a victory for Shimon Peres's Alignment, Menachem Begin's Likud won by just one seat...

. He resigned in 1983 for health reasons, passing the reins of power to Yitzhak Shamir
Yitzhak Shamir
' is a former Israeli politician, the seventh Prime Minister of Israel, in 1983–84 and 1986–92.-Biography:Icchak Jeziernicky was born in Ruzhany , Russian Empire . He studied at a Hebrew High School in Białystok, Poland. As a youth he joined Betar, the Revisionist Zionist youth movement...

.

After the 1984 elections
Israeli legislative election, 1984
Elections for the eleventh Knesset were held in Israel on 23 July 1984. Voter turnout was 78.8%. The results saw the Alignment return to being the largest party in the Knesset, a status it had lost in 1977...

 had proved inconclusive with neither the Alignment nor Likud able to form a government, a national unity government
National unity government
A national unity government, government of national unity, or national union government is a broad coalition government consisting of all parties in the legislature, usually formed during a time of war or other national emergency.- Canada :During World War I the Conservative government of Sir...

 was formed with a rotating prime ministership – Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres
GCMG is the ninth President of the State of Israel. Peres served twice as the eighth Prime Minister of Israel and once as Interim Prime Minister, and has been a member of 12 cabinets in a political career spanning over 66 years...

 took the first two years, and was replaced by Shamir midway through the Knesset term.

Although the 1988 elections
Israeli legislative election, 1988
Elections for the twelfth Knesset were held in Israel on 1 November 1988. Voter turnout was 79.7%.-Results:1 Five members of the Likud left to form the Party for the Advancement of the Zionist Idea; after two returned, the party was renamed the New Liberal Party...

 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
Israeli legislative election, 1992
Elections for the thirteenth Knesset were held in Israel on 23 June 1992. The result was a victory for the left, led by Yitzhak Rabin's Labor Party, though their win was at least partially due to several small right-wing parties narrowly failing to cross the electoral threshold and thus effectively...

. After his assassination
Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin
The assassination of Yitzhak Rabin took place on November 4, 1995 at 21:30, at the end of a rally in support of the Oslo Accords at the Kings of Israel Square in Tel Aviv...

 on 4 November 1995, Peres took over as prime minister.

Election


During the thirteenth Knesset
Israeli legislative election, 1992
Elections for the thirteenth Knesset were held in Israel on 23 June 1992. The result was a victory for the left, led by Yitzhak Rabin's Labor Party, though their win was at least partially due to several small right-wing parties narrowly failing to cross the electoral threshold and thus effectively...

 (1992–1996) it was decided to hold a separate ballot for prime minister modeled after American presidential elections
United States presidential election
Elections for President and Vice President of the United States are indirect elections in which voters cast ballots for a slate of electors of the U.S. Electoral College, who in turn directly elect the President and Vice President...

. In 1996, when the first such election
Israeli prime ministerial election, 1996
The first ever election for Prime Minister was held in Israel on 29 May 1996 alongside simultaneous Knesset elections. There were only two candidates: Shimon Peres of the Labour Party and Binyamin Netanyahu of Likud. The result was a surprise win for Netanyahu by a margin of 29,457 votes, less than...

 took place, the outcome was a surprise win for Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu is the current Prime Minister of Israel. He serves also as the Chairman of the Likud Party, as a Knesset member, as the Health Minister of Israel, as the Pensioner Affairs Minister of Israel and as the Economic Strategy Minister of Israel.Netanyahu is the first and, to...

 after election polls predicted that Peres was the winner. However, in the Knesset election held at the same time, Labor 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
Azmi Bishara
Azmi Bishara , a former member of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, is a Palestinian intellectual, academic, politician, and writer.In 2007, Bishara fled Israel and resigned from the Knesset after being questioned by police on suspicion of aiding and passing information to the enemy during...

 of Balad
Balad (Israel)
Balad is an Israeli Arab political party in Israel led by Jamal Zahalka. It is sometimes called the "National Democratic Alliance".- Ideology :...

 and Yitzhak Mordechai
Yitzhak Mordechai
Yitzhak Mordechai is an Israeli former general and politician. He served as a member of the Knesset between 1996 and 2001, and as Minister of Defense and Minister of Transport. He retired from political life after being indicted for sexual assaults during his military service and later...

 of the Centre Party
Centre Party (Israel)
The Centre Party , originally known as Israel in the Centre, was a short-lived political party in Israel. Formed in 1999 by former Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai, the aim was to create a group of moderates to challenge both Binyamin Netanyahu on the right and opposition leader Ehud Barak's...

) dropped out before election day, and Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak is an Israeli politician who served as Prime Minister from 1999 until 2001. He was leader of the Labor Party until January 2011 and holds the posts of Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister in Binyamin Netanyahu's government....

 beat Netanyahu in the election
Israeli prime ministerial election, 1999
The second Prime Ministerial election in Israel was held on 17 May 1999 alongside elections for the 15th Knesset. Voter turnout was 69.0%.-Context:...

. However, the new system again appeared to have failed, as although Barak's One Israel
One Israel
One Israel was an alliance of the Labor Party, Meimad and Gesher created to run for the 1999 Knesset elections.-Background:One Israel was formed by Labor leader Ehud Barak in the run-up to the 1999 elections with the aim of making Labor appear more centrist and to reduce its secularist and elitist...

 party (an alliance of Labour, Gesher and Meimad
Meimad
Meimad is a left-wing religious Zionist political party in Israel. Founded in 1999, it is based on the ideology of the Meimad movement founded in 1988 by Rabbi Yehuda Amital. At the national level, it was in alliance with the Labour Party, and until the 2006 elections, received 10th spot on the...

) won more votes than any other party in the Knesset election, they garnered only 26 seats, the lowest ever by a winning party, meaning that a coalition with six smaller parties was once again necessary.

In early 2001, Barak resigned following the outbreak of the al-Aqsa Intifada
Al-Aqsa Intifada
The Second Intifada, also known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada and the Oslo War, was the second Palestinian uprising, a period of intensified Palestinian-Israeli violence, which began in late September 2000...

. However, the government was not brought down, and only elections for prime minister were necessary. In the election itself, Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon is an Israeli statesman and retired general, who served as Israel’s 11th Prime Minister. He has been in a permanent vegetative state since suffering a stroke on 4 January 2006....

 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
Israel's unilateral disengagement plan
Israel's unilateral disengagement plan , also known as the "Disengagement plan", "Gaza expulsion plan", and "Hitnatkut", was a proposal by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, adopted by the government on June 6, 2004 and enacted in August 2005, to evict all Israelis from the Gaza Strip and from...

, Sharon broke away from his party to form Kadima
Kadima
Kadima is a centrist and liberal political party in Israel. It was established on 24 November 2005 by moderates from Likud largely to support the issue of Ariel Sharon's unilateral disengagement plan, and was soon joined by like-minded Labor politicians...

, 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
Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert is an Israeli politician and lawyer. He served as Prime Minister of Israel from 2006 to 2009, as a Cabinet Minister from 1988 to 1992 and from 2003 to 2006, and as Mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003....

 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.

Order of succession


If the Prime Minister dies in office, the Cabinet chooses an Interim Prime Minister, to run the government until a new government is placed in power. Yigal Allon
Yigal Allon
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, and was a member of the Knesset and government minister from the 10th through the...

 served as Interim Prime Minister following Levi Eshkol
Levi Eshkol
' served as the third Prime Minister of Israel from 1963 until his death from a heart attack in 1969. He was the first Israeli Prime Minister to die in office.-Biography:...

's death, as did Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres
GCMG is the ninth President of the State of Israel. Peres served twice as the eighth Prime Minister of Israel and once as Interim Prime Minister, and has been a member of 12 cabinets in a political career spanning over 66 years...

 following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin
Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin
The assassination of Yitzhak Rabin took place on November 4, 1995 at 21:30, at the end of a rally in support of the Oslo Accords at the Kings of Israel Square in Tel Aviv...

.

According to Israeli law, if a Prime Minister is temporarily incapacitated rather than dies (as was the case following Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon is an Israeli statesman and retired general, who served as Israel’s 11th Prime Minister. He has been in a permanent vegetative state since suffering a stroke on 4 January 2006....

's stroke in early 2006), power is transferred to the Acting Prime Minister, until the prime minister recovers (Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert is an Israeli politician and lawyer. He served as Prime Minister of Israel from 2006 to 2009, as a Cabinet Minister from 1988 to 1992 and from 2003 to 2006, and as Mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003....

 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
President of Israel
The President of the State of Israel is the head of state of Israel. The position is largely an apolitical ceremonial figurehead role, with the real executive power lying in the hands of the Prime Minister. The current president is Shimon Peres who took office on 15 July 2007...

 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.

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
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...

, at the corner of Balfour
Arthur Balfour
Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, KG, OM, PC, DL was a British Conservative politician and statesman...

 and Smolenskin streets in Rehavia
Rehavia
Rehavia is an upscale Jerusalem neighborhood located between the city center and Talbiya.-History:Rehavia was established on a large plot of land purchased in 1921 from the Greek Orthodox Church by the Palestine Land Development Company . The area was known at the time as Ginzaria, a native...

.

List of Prime Ministers of Israel by longevity



See also

  • Office of the Prime Minister (Israel)
    Office of the Prime Minister (Israel)
    Office of the Prime Minister is the governmental ministration office with the responsibility of coordinating the actions of the work of all governmental ministry offices, on various matters, and serving and assisting the Israeli Prime Minister in his daily work...

  • Beit Aghion
    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...

     (or Beit Rosh ha-Memshala, lit. The residence of the prime minister)

External links