Prime Minister of Israel: Wikis


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The Prime Minister of Israel (Hebrew: ראש הממשלה‎, Rosh HaMemshala, lit. Head of the Government) is the head of the Israeli government and the most powerful political figure in Israel (the title of President of Israel is an honorary position). The prime minister is the country's chief executive. The official residence of the prime minister, Beit Rosh Hamemshala is in Jerusalem. The current prime minister is Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud, the ninth person to hold the position (excluding caretakers).

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 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 chosen in a separate election to the rest of the Knesset. [1]



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.

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).

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 including the suicide of Housing Minister Avraham Ofer 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 for accepting bribes. Rabin's wife, Leah, was also found to have 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.



During the thirteenth Knesset (1992–1996) it was decided to hold a separate ballot for prime minister modeled after American presidential elections. 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.[2] However, in the Knesset election held at the same time, Labour won. 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 had failed again, as although Barak's One Israel party (an alliance of Labour, Gesher and Meimad) won 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. However, the government was not brought down, and only elections for prime minister were necessary. In the election itself, Ariel Sharon 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 scrap 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.

Order of succession

If the Prime Minister dies in office, the Cabinet chooses an Interim Prime Minister,[3] 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. [4]

List of Prime Ministers

Living former Prime Ministers

Name Term Date of birth
Yitzhak Shamir (1st) 1983–1984 (2nd) 1986–1992 15 October 1915
Shimon Peres (1st) 1984–1986 (2nd) 1995–1996 2 August 1923
Benjamin Netanyahu (1st) 1996–1999 (2nd) 2009–present 21 October 1949
Ehud Barak 1999–2001 12 February 1942
Ariel Sharon 2001–2006 26 February 1928
Ehud Olmert 2006–2009 30 September 1945


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

External links

Simple English

The Prime Minister of Israel is the head of the Israeli government and is the most powerful political officer in Israel. He or she wields executive power in the country, and has an official residence in Jerusalem. The current Prime Minister is Ehud Olmert of Kadima, the twelfth person to hold the position.

List of Prime Ministers

# Picture Name Born - Died Term started Term ended Political Party
1. File:David David Ben-Gurion (1st time) 1886 - 1973 14 May 1948 7 December 1953 Mapai
2. Moshe Sharett 1894 - 1965 7 December 1953 2 November 1955 Mapai
File:David David Ben-Gurion (2nd time) 1886 - 1973 2 November 1955 21 June 1963 Mapai
3. File:Levi Levi Eshkol 1 1895 - 1969 21 June 1963 1 November 1965 Mapai
File:Levi Levi Eshkol 2 1895 - 1969 1 November 1965 26 February 1969 Alignment
3b. N/A Yigal Allon (acting) 2 1918 - 1980 26 February 1969 17 March 1969 Alignment
4. File:Golda Meir Golda Meir 1898 - 1978 17 March 1969 3 June 1974 Alignment
5. File:Yitzak Rabin Yitzhak Rabin (1st time)3 1922 - 1995 3 June 1974 21 June 1977 Alignment
6. Menachem Begin 1913 - 1992 21 June 1977 10 October 1983 Likud
7. File:Yitzhak Yitzhak Shamir (1st time) 1915 - 10 October 1983 14 September 1984 Likud
8. File:Shimon Peres Shimon Peres (1st time) 4 1923 - 14 September 1984 20 October 1986 Alignment
File:Yitzhak Yitzhak Shamir (2nd time) 4 1915 - 20 October 1986 13 July 1992 Likud
File:Yitzak Rabin Yitzhak Rabin (2nd time) 5 1922 - 1995 13 July 1992 4 November 1995 Labour
File:Shimon Peres Shimon Peres (2nd time) 5 1923 - 4 November 1995 18 June 1996 Labour
9. File:Benjamin Benjamin Netanyahu 1949 - 18 June 1996 6 July 1999 Likud
10. File:Ehud Ehud Barak 1942 - 6 July 1999 7 March 2001 One Israel/Labour
11. File:Ariel Sharon Ariel Sharon 6 1928 - 7 March 2001 21 November 2005 Likud
File:Ariel Sharon Ariel Sharon 6 7 1928 - 21 November 2005 4 January 2006 Kadima
11b. File:Ehud Olmert (Sao Paulo 2005).jpg Ehud Olmert (acting)7 1945 - 4 January 2006 14 April 2006 Kadima
12. File:Ehud Olmert (Sao Paulo 2005).jpg Ehud Olmert 7 8 1945 - 14 April 2006 Present8 Kadima

Living former Prime Ministers

NameTermDate of birth
Yitzhak Shamir (1st) 1983 – 1984 (2nd) 1986 – 1992 15 October 1915
Shimon Peres (1st) 1984 – 1986 (2nd) 1995 – 1996 2 August 1923
Benjamin Netanyahu 1996 – 1999 21 October 1949
Ehud Barak 1999 – 2001 12 February 1942
Ariel Sharon 2001 – 2006 27 February 1928


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