Knesset

The Knesset (Hebrew: הַכְּנֶסֶת [ha 'kneset] (listen); lit. "the gathering"[2] or "assembly"; Arabic: الكنيستal-K(e)neset) 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 (although the latter is ceremonially appointed by the President), 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.[3] The Knesset is located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.

The Knesset

הכנסת
الكنيست

HaKnesset
al-Keneset
20th Knesset
Coat of arms or logo
Type
Type
Leadership
Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, Likud
since 18 March 2013
Benjamin Netanyahu, Likud
since 31 March 2009
Shelly Yachimovich, Labor
since 1 January 2019
Structure
Seats120
2019 Israeli Knesset Composition
Political groups
Government (61)[1]

Opposition (59)

Elections
Party-list proportional representation
D'Hondt method
Last election
17 March 2015
Next election
9 April 2019
Meeting place
Knesset Building (South Side)
Knesset, Givat Ram, Jerusalem, Israel
Website
www.knesset.gov.il

Name

The term "Knesset" is derived from the ancient Knesset HaGdola (Hebrew: כְּנֶסֶת הַגְּדוֹלָה‎) or "Great Assembly", which according to Jewish tradition was an assembly of 120 scribes, sages, and prophets, in the period from the end of the Biblical prophets to the time of the development of Rabbinic Judaism – about two centuries ending c. 200 BCE.[4] There is, however, no organisational continuity and – aside from the number of members – little similarity, as the ancient Knesset was a religious, completely unelected body.

Role in Israeli government

As the legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the president, approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government through its committees. It also has the power to waive the immunity of its members, remove the President and the State Comptroller from office, and to dissolve itself and call new elections.

The Knesset has de jure parliamentary supremacy, and can pass any law by a simple majority, even one that might arguably conflict with the Basic Laws of Israel, unless the basic law includes specific conditions for its modification; in accordance with a plan adopted in 1950, the Basic Laws can be adopted and amended by the Knesset, acting in its capacity as a Constituent Assembly.[5]

In addition to the absence of a formal constitution, and with no Basic Law thus far being adopted which formally grants a power of judicial review to the judiciary, the Supreme Court of Israel has in recent years asserted its authority, when sitting as the High Court of Justice, to invalidate provisions of Knesset laws it has found to be inconsistent with a Basic Law.[5] The Knesset is presided over by a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker.

Committees

The Knesset is divided into committees, which amend bills on the appropriate subjects. Committee chairpersons are chosen by their members, on recommendation of the House Committee, and their factional composition represents that of the Knesset itself. Committees may elect sub-committees and delegate powers to them, or establish joint committees for issues concerning more than one committee. To further their deliberations, they invite government ministers, senior officials, and experts in the matter being discussed. Committees may request explanation and information from any relevant ministers in any matter within their competence, and the ministers or persons appointed by them must provide the explanation or information requested.[3]

There are four types of committees in the Knesset. Permanent committees amend proposed legislation dealing with their area of expertise, and may initiate legislation. However, such legislation may only deal with Basic Laws and laws dealing with the Knesset, elections to the Knesset, Knesset members, or the State Comptroller. Special committees function in a similar manner to permanent committees, but are appointed to deal with particular manners at hand, and can be dissolved or turned into permanent committees. Parliamentary inquiry committees are appointed by the plenum to deal with issues viewed as having special national importance. In addition, there are two types of committees that convene only when needed: the Interpretations Committee, made up of the Speaker and eight members chosen by the House Committee, deals with appeals against the interpretation given by the Speaker during a sitting of the plenum to the Knesset rules of procedure or precedents, and Public Committees, established to deal with issues that are connected to the Knesset.[6][7]

Permanent committees:

  • House Committee
  • Finance Committee
  • Economic Affairs Committee
  • Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
  • Interior and Environment Committee
  • Immigration, Absorption, and Diaspora Affairs Committee
  • Education, Culture, and Sports Committee
  • Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee
  • Labour, Welfare, and Health Committee
  • Science and Technology Committee
  • State Control Committee
  • Committee on the Status of Women

Special committees:

The other committees are the Arrangements Committee and the Ethics Committee. The Ethics Committee is responsible for jurisdiction over Knesset members who violate the rules of ethics of the Knesset, or involved in illegal activities outside the Knesset. Within the framework of responsibility, the Ethics Committee may place various sanctions on a member, but is not allowed to restrict a members' right to vote. The Arrangements Committee proposes the makeup of the permanent committees following each election, as well as suggesting committee chairs, lays down the sitting arrangements of political parties in the Knesset, and the distribution of rooms in the Knesset building to members and parties.[8]

Caucuses

Knesset members often join together in formal or informal groups known as "lobbies" or "caucuses", to advocate for a particular topic. There are hundreds of such caucuses in the Knesset. The Knesset Christian Allies Caucus and the Knesset Land of Israel Caucus are two of the largest and most actives caucuses.[9][10]

Size

PikiWiki Israel 7260 Knesset-Room
Knesset chamber, celebrating 61 years of the Knesset

The Knesset numbers 120 members, after the size of the Great Assembly. The subject of Knesset membership has often been a cause for proposed reforms. In 1996, then-Justice Minister Yossi Beilin, backed the ultimately unsuccessful institution of the so-called "Norwegian law", which would require appointed members of the cabinet to resign their seats in the Knesset and allow other members of their parties to take their positions while they serve in the cabinet; this would have resulted in more active members of the legislature being present in regular sessions and committee meetings. This proposed law has also been favoured by other politicians, including Benjamin Netanyahu.[11]

Elections

The 120 members of the Knesset (MKs)[12] are popularly elected from a single nationwide electoral district to concurrent four-year terms, subject to calls for early elections (which are quite common). All Israeli citizens 18 years or older may vote in legislative elections, which are conducted by secret ballot.

Knesset seats are allocated among the various parties using the D'Hondt method of party list proportional representation. A party or electoral alliance must pass the election threshold of 3.25%[13] of the overall vote to be allocated a Knesset seat. Parties select their candidates using a closed list. Thus, voters select the party of their choice, not any specific candidate.

The electoral threshold was previously set at 1% from 1949 to 1992, then 1.5% from 1992 to 2003, and then 2% until March 2014 when the current threshold of 3.25% was passed (effective with elections for the 20th Knesset).[14] As a result of the low threshold, a typical Knesset has 10 or more factions represented. With such a large number of parties, it is nearly impossible for one party or faction to govern alone, let alone win a majority. No party or faction has ever won the 61 seats necessary for a majority; the closest being the 56 seats won by the Alignment in the 1969 elections (the Alignment had briefly held 63 seats going into the 1969 elections after being formed shortly beforehand by the merger of several parties, the only occasion on which any party or faction has ever held a majority). Every Israeli government has been a coalition of two or more parties.

After an election, the President meets with the leaders of every party that won Knesset seats and asks them to recommend which party leader should form the government. The President then nominates the party leader who is most likely to command the support of a majority in the Knesset (though not necessarily the leader of the largest party/faction in the chamber). The Prime Minister-designate has 42 days to put together a viable coalition (extensions can be granted and often are), and then must win a vote of confidence in the Knesset before taking office.

Current composition

Party Seats elected +/–
Likud 30 +12
Zionist Union 24 +3
Joint List 13 +2
Yesh Atid 11 –8
Kulanu 10 New
The Jewish Home 8 –4
Shas 7 –4
Yisrael Beiteinu 6 –7
United Torah Judaism 6 –1
Meretz 5 –1
Total 120
Source: CEC

In 2015, 29 women were elected to the Knesset, a record number.[15] There were 18 Arab MKs elected. [16] Most of the Arab MKs are affiliated with an alliance of the main Arab-dominated Israeli political parties.

Functioning

Despite numerous motions of no confidence being tabled in the Knesset, a government has only been defeated by one once,[17] when Yitzhak Shamir's government was brought down on 15 March 1990 as part of a plot that became known as "the dirty trick" (Hebrew: התרגיל המסריח, HaTargil HaMasriaḥ, lit. "the stinking trick").

However, several governments have resigned as a result of no-confidence motions, even when they were not defeated. These include the fifth government, which fell after Prime Minister Moshe Sharett resigned in June 1955 following the abstention of the General Zionists (part of the governing coalition) during a vote of no-confidence;[18] the ninth government, which fell after Prime Minister Ben-Gurion resigned in January 1961 over a motion of no-confidence on the Lavon Affair;[19] and the seventeenth government, which resigned in December 1976 after the National Religious Party (part of the governing coalition) abstained in a motion of no-confidence against the government.

History

Frumin entrance
Historic engraving on the Frumin House, King George St., Jerusalem

The Knesset first convened on February 14, 1949, following the 20 January elections, replacing the Provisional State Council which acted as Israel's official legislature from its date of independence on May 14, 1948 and succeeding the Assembly of Representatives that had functioned as the Jewish community's representative body during the Mandate era.

The Knesset compound sits on a hilltop in western Jerusalem in a district known as Sheikh Badr before the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, now Givat Ram. The main building was financed by James de Rothschild as a gift to the State of Israel in his will and was completed in 1966. It was built on land leased from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.[20] Over the years, significant additions to the structure were constructed, however, these were built at levels below and behind the main 1966 structure as not to detract from the original assembly building's appearance.

Before the construction of its permanent home, the Knesset met in the Jewish Agency building in Jerusalem, the Kessem Cinema building in Tel Aviv and the Froumine building in Jerusalem.[21]

Location and construction timeline

The Knesset in winter
The Knesset in winter
  • February 14, 1949: First meeting of the Constituent Assembly, Jewish Agency, Jerusalem
  • March 8, 1949 – December 14, 1949: Kessem Cinema in Tel Aviv (the Opera Tower, Migdal HaOpera, is situated there today)
  • December 26, 1949 – March 8, 1950: Jewish Agency, Jerusalem
  • March 13, 1950: Froumine Building, King George Street, Jerusalem.
  • 1950–1955: Israeli government holds architectural competitions for the permanent Knesset building. Ossip Klarwein's original design won the competition
  • 1955: Government approves plans to build the Knesset in its current location
  • 1957: James de Rothschild informs Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion of his desire to finance the construction of the building
  • October 14, 1958: Cornerstone-laying for new Knesset building
  • August 31, 1966: Dedication of new building (during the sixth Knesset)
  • 1981: Construction of new wing begins
  • 1992: New wing opens
  • 2001: Construction starts on a large new wing that essentially doubles the overall floorspace of the Knesset compound.
  • 2007: New large wing opens

Knesset assemblies

Each Knesset session is known by its election number. Thus the Knesset elected by Israel's first election in 1949 is known as the First Knesset. The current Knesset, elected in 2015, is the Twentieth Knesset.

Tourism

The Knesset holds morning tours in Hebrew, English, French, Spanish, Arabic, German and Russian on Sunday and Thursday and there are also live session viewing times on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings.[22]

Security

Knesset Guard P5200034
A member of the Knesset Guard

The Knesset is protected by the Knesset Guard, a protective security unit responsible for the security of the Knesset building and Knesset members. Guards are stationed outside the building to provide armed protection, and ushers are stationed inside to maintain order. The Knesset Guard also plays a ceremonial role, participating in state ceremonies which includes greeting dignitaries on Mount Herzl on the eve of Israeli Independence Day.

Public perception

A poll conducted by the Israeli Democracy Institute in April and May 2014 showed that while a majority of both Jews and Arabs in Israel are proud to be citizens of the country, both groups share a distrust of Israel's government, including the Knesset. Almost three quarters of Israelis surveyed said corruption in Israel’s political leadership was either "widespread or somewhat prevalent." A majority of both Arabs and Jews trusted the Israel Defense Forces, the President of Israel and the Supreme Court of Israel, but Jews and Arabs reported similar levels of mistrust, with little more than a third of each group claiming confidence in the Knesset.[23]

See also

References

  1. ^ Marissa Newman (14 November 2018). "As Liberman quits, looming draft law deadline puts Netanyahu under the gun". Times of Israel. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  2. ^ The Oxford Dictionary of English, Oxford University Press, 2005
  3. ^ a b The Knesset. Jewishvirtuallibrary.org. Retrieved September 8, 2011.
  4. ^ Synagogue, The Great (Heb. כְּנֶסֶת הַגְּדוֹלָה, Keneset ha-Gedolah) Jewish Virtual Library
  5. ^ a b "Basic Laws - Introduction". Knesset. Retrieved 2010-03-05.
  6. ^ Legislation. Knesset.gov.il. Retrieved September 8, 2011.
  7. ^ Knesset Committees. Knesset.gov.il. Retrieved September 8, 2011.
  8. ^ The Organisation of the Work of the Knesset. Knesset.gov.il (February 17, 2003). Retrieved September 8, 2011.
  9. ^ Lobbies of the Twentieth Knesset
  10. ^ Coalition chief heading caucus that seeks to retain entire West Bank, Times of Israel, 11 June 2013: "Knesset caucuses, sometimes called lobbies, are informal groups of parliamentarians that gather around a certain cause or topic. There are hundreds of such caucuses, but the one Levin and Strock now head is one of the largest — if not the largest, with 20-30 members in the last Knesset — and most active."
  11. ^ Netanyahu considering forcing ministers to vacate Knesset seats Haaretz, 13 February 2009
  12. ^ "All 120 incoming Knesset members". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 2017-06-06.
  13. ^ www.knesset.gov.il
  14. ^ Lis, Jonathan (12 March 2014). "Israel raises electoral threshold to 3.25 percent". Haaretz. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  15. ^ Hartman, Ben (20 March 2015). "Final Knesset tally bumps female MKs up to 29". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  16. ^ Chazan, Naomi (4 June 2018). "The Israeli government needs more Arab MKs". Times of Israel.
  17. ^ The Plenum - Motions of No-Confidence Knesset website
  18. ^ Factional and Government Make-Up of the Second Knesset Knesset website
  19. ^ Factional and Government Make-Up of the Fourth Knesset Knesset website
  20. ^ Defacement in Jerusalem monastery threatens diplomatic crisis Haaretz, October 8, 2006
  21. ^ Beit Froumine. Knesset.gov.il (August 30, 1966). Retrieved September 8, 2011.
  22. ^ Knesset Times to Visit. Knesset.gov.il. Retrieved September 8, 2011.
  23. ^ "Tamar Pileggi 'Jews and Arabs proud to be Israeli, distrust government: Poll conducted before war shows marked rise in support for state among Arabs; religious establishment scores low on trust' (4 Jan 2015) The Times of Israel" http://www.timesofisrael.com/jews-and-arabs-proud-to-be-israeli-distrust-government/

External links

Coordinates: 31°46′36″N 35°12′19″E / 31.77667°N 35.20528°E

Ariel Sharon

Ariel Sharon (Hebrew: אריאל שרון‎; IPA: [aʁiˈ(ʔ)el ʃaˈʁon] (listen), Ariʼēl Sharōn, also known by his diminutive Arik, אַריק, born Ariel Scheinermann, אריאל שיינרמן‎; 26 February 1928 – 11 January 2014) was an Israeli general and politician who served as the 11th Prime Minister of Israel from March 2001 until April 2006.Sharon was a commander in the Israeli Army from its creation in 1948. As a soldier and then an officer, he participated prominently in the 1948 Palestine war, becoming a platoon commander in the Alexandroni Brigade and taking part in many battles, including Operation Bin Nun Alef. He was an instrumental figure in the creation of Unit 101 and the reprisal operations, as well as in the 1956 Suez Crisis, the Six-Day War of 1967, the War of Attrition, and the Yom-Kippur War of 1973. Yitzhak Rabin has called Sharon "the greatest field commander in our history".Upon retirement from the military, Sharon entered politics, joining the Likud party, and served in a number of ministerial posts in Likud-led governments in 1977–92 and 1996–99. As Minister of Defense, he directed the 1982 Lebanon War. An official enquiry found that he bore "personal responsibility" for the Sabra and Shatila massacre and recommended that he be removed as Defense Minister. His role in the massacre led to him being known as the "Butcher of Beirut" among Arabs.From the 1970s through to the 1990s, Sharon championed construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He became the leader of the Likud in 2000, and served as Israel's prime minister from 2001 to 2006. However, as Prime Minister, in 2004–05 Sharon orchestrated Israel's unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip. Facing stiff opposition to this policy within the Likud, in November 2005 he left Likud to form a new party, Kadima. He had been expected to win the next election and was widely interpreted as planning on "clearing Israel out of most of the West Bank", in a series of unilateral withdrawals. After suffering a stroke on 4 January 2006, Sharon remained in a permanent vegetative state until his death in January 2014.

Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu (Hebrew: בִּנְיָמִין נְתַנְיָהוּ ; born 21 October 1949) is an Israeli politician serving as the 9th and current Prime Minister of Israel since 2009, previously holding the position from 1996 to 1999. Netanyahu is also currently a member of the Knesset and the Chairman of the Likud party. He is the first Israeli Prime Minister born in Israel after the establishment of the state.

Born in Tel Aviv to secular Jewish parents, Netanyahu joined the Israel Defense Forces shortly after the Six-Day War in 1967, and became a team leader in the Sayeret Matkal special forces unit. Netanyahu took part in many missions, including Operation Inferno (1968), Operation Gift (1968) and Operation Isotope (1972), during which he was shot in the shoulder. Netanyahu fought on the front lines in the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War in 1973, taking part in special forces raids along the Suez Canal, and then leading a commando assault deep into Syrian territory. Netanyahu achieved the rank of captain before being discharged. After graduating from MIT with Bachelor of Science (SB) and Master of Science (SM) degrees, Netanyahu was recruited as an economic consultant for the Boston Consulting Group. Netanyahu returned to Israel in 1978 to found the Yonatan Netanyahu Anti-Terror Institute, named after his brother Yonatan Netanyahu, who died leading Operation Entebbe. Netanyahu served as the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations from 1984 to 1988.

He became the leader of Likud in 1993 and won the 1996 elections, becoming Israel's youngest-ever Prime Minister, serving his first term from June 1996 to July 1999. Netanyahu moved from the political arena to the private sector after being defeated in the 1999 election for prime minister by Ehud Barak. Netanyahu returned to politics in 2002 as Foreign Affairs Minister (2002–2003) and Finance Minister (2003–2005) in Ariel Sharon's governments, but he departed the government over disagreements regarding the Gaza disengagement plan. As Minister of Finance, Netanyahu engaged in a major reform of the Israeli economy, which was credited by commentators as having significantly improved Israel's subsequent economic performance. Netanyahu retook the Likud leadership in December 2005, after Sharon left to form a new party, Kadima. In December 2006, Netanyahu became the official Leader of the Opposition in the Knesset and Chairman of Likud. Following the 2009 parliamentary election, in which Likud placed second and right-wing parties won a majority, Netanyahu formed a coalition government. He won electoral victory in the 2013 elections for the third time, and in the 2015 elections for a fourth time.

Netanyahu has been elected Prime Minister of Israel four times, matching David Ben-Gurion for most premierships, and he is the only prime minister in Israel's history to have been elected three times in a row. Netanyahu is currently the second longest-serving Prime Minister in Israel's history after David Ben-Gurion. Since December 2016 Netanyahu had been under investigation by police and prosecutors for a number of alleged corruption scandals, culminating in the Israeli attorney general announcing his intent to file indictments in 2019.

Cabinet of Israel

The Government of Israel (officially: Hebrew: ממשלת ישראל‎ Memshelet Yisrael) exercises executive authority in the State of Israel. It consists of ministers who are chosen and led by the prime minister. The composition of the government must be approved by a vote of confidence in the Knesset (the Israeli parliament). Under Israeli law, the prime minister may dismiss members of the government, but must do so in writing, and new appointees must be approved by the Knesset. Most ministers lead ministries, though some are ministers without portfolio. Most ministers are members of the Knesset, though only the Prime Minister and the "designated acting prime minister" are required to be Knesset members. Some ministers are also called deputy and vice prime ministers. Unlike the designated acting prime minister, these roles have no statutory meanings. The government operates in accordance with the Basic Law. It meets on Sundays weekly in Jerusalem. There may be additional meetings if circumstances require it. The prime minister convenes these meetings.

David Ben-Gurion

David Ben-Gurion (Hebrew: דָּוִד בֶּן-גּוּרִיּוֹן‎; pronounced [daˈvɪd ben gurˈjo:n] (listen), born David Grün; 16 October 1886 – 1 December 1973) was the primary national founder of the State of Israel and 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. As head of the Jewish Agency from 1935, and later president of the Jewish Agency Executive, he was the de facto leader of the Jewish community in Palestine, and largely led its struggle for an independent Jewish state in Mandatory Palestine. On 14 May 1948, he formally proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel, and was the first to sign the Israeli Declaration of Independence, which he had helped to write. Ben-Gurion led Israel during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, and united the various Jewish militias into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Subsequently, he became known as "Israel's founding father".Following the war, Ben-Gurion served as Israel's first Prime Minister and Minister of Defense. As Prime Minister, he helped build the state institutions, presiding over various national projects aimed at the development of the country. He also oversaw the absorption of vast numbers of Jews from all over the world. A centerpiece of his foreign policy was improving relationships with the West Germans. He worked very well with Konrad Adenauer's government in Bonn, and West Germany provided large sums (in the Reparations Agreement between Israel and West Germany) in compensation for Nazi Germany's confiscation of Jewish property during the Holocaust.In 1954 he resigned as both Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, although he remained a member of the Knesset. However, he returned as Minister of Defense in 1955 after the Lavon Affair resulted in the resignation of Pinhas Lavon. Later in the year he became Prime Minister again, following the 1955 elections. Under his leadership, Israel responded aggressively to Arab guerrilla attacks, and in 1956, invaded Egypt along with British and French forces after Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal during what became known as the Suez Crisis.

He stepped down from office in 1963, and retired from political life in 1970. He then moved to Sde Boker, a kibbutz in the Negev desert, where he lived until his death. Posthumously, Ben-Gurion was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Important People of the 20th century.

Ehud Olmert

Ehud Olmert (Hebrew: אֶהוּד אוֹלְמֶרְט‎, IPA: [eˈhud ˈolmeʁt] (listen); born 30 September 1945) is an Israeli politician and lawyer. He served as the 12th Prime Minister of Israel from 2006 to 2009 and before that as a cabinet minister from 1988 to 1992 and from 2003 to 2006. Between his first and second stints as a cabinet member, he served as mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003. After serving as PM he was sentenced to serve a prison term over convictions for accepting bribes and for obstruction of justice during his terms as mayor of Jerusalem and as trade minister.

Elections in Israel

Elections in Israel are based on nationwide proportional representation. The electoral threshold is currently set at 3.25%, with the number of seats a party receives in the Knesset being proportional to the number of votes it receives. The Knesset is elected for a four-year term, although most governments have not served a full term and early elections are a frequent occurrence. Israel has a multi-party system based on coalition governments as no party has ever won a majority of seats in a national election, although the Alignment briefly held a majority following its formation by an alliance of several different parties prior to the 1969 elections. The legal voting age for Israeli citizens is 18. Elections are overseen by the Central Elections Committee and are held according to the Knesset Elections Law.

Golda Meir

Golda Meir (Hebrew: גּוֹלְדָּה מֵאִיר; pronounced [ˈɡolda meˈʔiʁ], born Golda Mabovitch, May 3, 1898 – December 8, 1978) was an Israeli teacher, kibbutznik, stateswoman, politician and the fourth prime minister of Israel.

Born in Kiev, she emigrated to the United States as a child with her family in 1906, and was educated there, becoming a teacher. After marrying, she and her husband immigrated to then Mandatory Palestine in 1921, settling on a kibbutz. Meir was elected prime minister of Israel on March 17, 1969, after serving as Minister of Labour and Foreign Minister. The world's fourth and Israel's first and only woman to hold the office, she has been described as the "Iron Lady" of Israeli politics; the term was later applied to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion used to call Meir "the best man in the government"; she was often portrayed as the "strong-willed, straight-talking, grey-bunned grandmother of the Jewish people."Meir resigned as prime minister in 1974, the year following the Yom Kippur War. She died in 1978 of lymphoma.

Menachem Begin

Menachem Begin (Hebrew: מְנַחֵם בֵּגִין Menaḥem Begin (listen ); Polish: Mieczysław Biegun; Russian: Менахем Вольфович Бегин Menakhem Volfovich Begin; 16 August 1913 – 9 March 1992) was an Israeli politician, founder of Likud and the sixth Prime Minister of Israel. Before the creation of the state of Israel, 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, against the British mandatory government, which was opposed by the Jewish Agency. As head of the Irgun, he targeted the British in Palestine. Later, the Irgun fought the Arabs during the 1947–48 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine.

Begin was elected to the first Knesset, as head of Herut, the party he founded, and was at first on the political fringe, embodying the opposition to the Mapai-led government and Israeli establishment. He remained in opposition in the eight consecutive elections (except for a national unity government around the Six-Day War), but became more acceptable to the political center. His 1977 electoral victory and premiership ended three decades of Labor Party political dominance.

Begin’s most significant achievement as Prime Minister was the signing of a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979, for which he and Anwar Sadat shared the Nobel Prize for Peace. In the wake of the Camp David Accords, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula, which was captured from Egypt in the Six-Day War. Later, Begin’s government promoted the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Begin authorized the bombing of the Osirak nuclear plant in Iraq and the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 to fight PLO strongholds there, igniting the 1982 Lebanon War. As Israeli military involvement in Lebanon deepened, and the Sabra and Shatila massacre, carried out by Christian Phalangist militia allies of the Israelis, shocked world public opinion, Begin grew increasingly isolated. As IDF forces remained mired in Lebanon and the economy suffered from hyperinflation, the public pressure on Begin mounted. Depressed by the death of his wife Aliza in November 1982, he gradually withdrew from public life, until his resignation in October 1983.

Politics of Israel

Politics in Israel is dominated by Zionist parties. They traditionally fall into three camps, the first two being the largest: Labor Zionism (social democrat), Revisionist Zionism (conservative) and Religious Zionism. There are also several non-Zionist Orthodox religious parties, non-Zionist left-wing groups as well as non-Zionist and anti-Zionist Israeli Arab parties.

President of Israel

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, 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.

Prime Minister of Israel

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.

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).

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.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.

Reuven Rivlin

Reuven "Ruvi" Rivlin (Hebrew: רְאוּבֵן "רוּבִי" רִיבְלִין, [ʁeʔuˈven ʁivˈlin] (listen); born 9 September 1939) is an Israeli politician and lawyer serving as the 10th and current President of Israel since 2014. He is a member of the Likud party. Rivlin was Minister of Communications from 2001 to 2003, and subsequently served as Speaker of the Knesset from 2003 to 2006, and again from 2009 to 2013. On 10 June 2014, he was elected President of Israel.Rivlin argues for a Greater Israel that would embrace all people and give the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza full Israeli citizenship. He is also a strong supporter of minority rights, particularly for Arab Israelis. He supports the one-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Rivlin is fluent in Arabic.

Shas

Shas (Hebrew: ש״ס, an acronym for שומרי תורה ספרדים Shomeri Torah Sefaradim, "Torah-Observant Sephardim") is an ultra-Orthodox religious political party in Israel. Founded in 1984 under the leadership of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, a former Israeli Sephardi chief rabbi, who remained its spiritual leader until his death in October 2013, it primarily represents the interests of Haredi Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews. The party works to end prejudice and discrimination against the Sephardic community, and highlights economic issues and social justice.

Originally a small ethnic political group, Shas is currently Israel's seventh-largest party in the Knesset. Since 1984, it has almost always formed a part of the governing coalition, whether the ruling party was Labor or Likud. As of 2017, Shas members currently sit with Likud in the government.

Shimon Peres

Shimon Peres (; Hebrew: שמעון פרס‎, listen ; born Szymon Perski; 2 August 1923 – 28 September 2016) was an Israeli politician who served as the ninth President of Israel (2007–2014), the Prime Minister of Israel (twice), and the Interim Prime Minister, in the 1970s to the 1990s. He was a member of twelve cabinets and represented five political parties in a political career spanning 70 years. Peres was elected to the Knesset in November 1959 and except for a three-month-long hiatus in early 2006, was in office continuously until he was elected President in 2007. At the time of his retirement in 2014, he was the world's oldest head of state and was considered the last link to Israel's founding generation.From a young age, he was renowned for his oratorical brilliance, and was chosen as a protégé by David Ben-Gurion, Israel's founding father. He began his political career in the late 1940s, holding several diplomatic and military positions during and directly after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. His first high-level government position was as Deputy Director-General of Defense in 1952 which he attained at the age of 28, and Director-General from 1953 until 1959. In 1956, he took part in the historic negotiations on the Protocol of Sèvres described by British Prime Minister Anthony Eden as the "highest form of statesmanship". In 1963, he held negotiations with U.S. President John F. Kennedy, which resulted in the sale of Hawk anti-aircraft missiles to Israel, the first sale of U.S. military equipment to Israel. Peres represented Mapai, Rafi, the Alignment, Labor and Kadima in the Knesset, and led Alignment and Labor.Peres first succeeded Yitzhak Rabin as Acting Prime Minister briefly during 1977, before becoming Prime Minister from 1984 to 1986. As Foreign Minister under Prime Minister Rabin, Peres engineered the 1994 Israel–Jordan peace treaty, and won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize together with Rabin and Yasser Arafat for the Oslo Accords peace talks with the Palestinian leadership. In 1996, he founded the Peres Center for Peace, which has the aim of "promot[ing] lasting peace and advancement in the Middle East by fostering tolerance, economic and technological development, cooperation and well-being." After suffering a stroke, Peres died on 28 September 2016 near Tel Aviv.Peres was a polyglot, speaking Polish, French, English, Russian, Yiddish, and Hebrew, although he never lost his Polish accent when speaking in Hebrew. In his private life, he was a poet and songwriter, writing stanzas during cabinet meetings, with some of his poems later being recorded as songs in albums. As a result of his deep literary interests, he could quote from Hebrew prophets, French literature, and Chinese philosophy with equal ease.

Synagogue

A synagogue (pronounced ; from Greek συναγωγή, synagogē, 'assembly', Hebrew: בית כנסת bet kenesset, 'house of assembly' or בית תפילה bet tefila, "house of prayer", Yiddish: שול shul, Ladino: אסנוגה esnoga or קהל kahal), is a Jewish or Samaritan house of worship.

Synagogues have a large place for prayer (the main sanctuary) and may also have smaller rooms for study and sometimes a social hall and offices. Some have a separate room for Torah study, called the בית מדרש beth midrash "house of study".

Synagogues are consecrated spaces used for the purpose of prayer, Tanakh (the entire Hebrew Bible, including the Torah) reading, study and assembly; however, a synagogue is not necessary for worship. Halakha holds that communal Jewish worship can be carried out wherever ten Jews (a minyan) assemble. Worship can also be carried out alone or with fewer than ten people assembled together. However, halakha considers certain prayers as communal prayers and therefore they may be recited only by a minyan. In terms of its specific ritual and liturgical functions, the synagogue does not replace the long-since destroyed Temple in Jerusalem.

United Torah Judaism

United Torah Judaism (Hebrew: יַהֲדוּת הַתּוֹרָה הַמְאוּחֶדֶת‎, Yahadut HaTora HaMeuhedet; UTJ) is an alliance of Degel HaTorah and Agudat Israel, two Ashkenazi Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) political parties in the Israeli Knesset. It was first formed in 1992.

The two parties have not always agreed with each other about policy matters. However, over the years, they have co-operated and united as a voting bloc in order to win the maximum number of seats in the Knesset, since many extra votes can be wasted if election thresholds are not attained under Israel's proportional representation parliamentary system.

When UTJ joined Ariel Sharon's coalition in 2004, it split into its two constituent factions of Degel HaTorah and Agudat Israel. Before the 2006 election, Degel HaTorah and Agudat Israel agreed to revive their alliance under the banner of United Torah Judaism to not waste votes, and to achieve maximum representation in the 17th Knesset.

The party won 6 seats in the 20th Knesset elections in 2015, which was down from 7 seats in the 19th Knesset elections in 2013.

Yitzhak Rabin

Yitzhak Rabin (; Hebrew: יצחק רבין, IPA: [jitsˈχak ʁaˈbin] (listen); 1 March 1922 – 4 November 1995) 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.

Rabin was born in Jerusalem to Ukrainian-Jewish immigrants and was raised in a Labor Zionist household. He learned agriculture in school and excelled as a student. He led a 27-year career as a soldier. As a teenager he joined the Palmach, the commando force of the Yishuv. He eventually rose through its ranks to become its chief of operations during Israel's War of Independence. He joined the newly formed Israel Defense Forces in late 1948 and continued to rise as a promising officer. He helped shape the training doctrine of the IDF in the early 1950s, and led the IDF's Operations Directorate from 1959 to 1963. He was appointed Chief of the General Staff in 1964 and oversaw Israel's victory in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Rabin served as Israel's ambassador to the United States from 1968 to 1973, during a period of deepening U.S.–Israel ties. He was appointed Prime Minister of Israel in 1974, after the resignation of Golda Meir. In his first term, Rabin signed the Sinai Interim Agreement and ordered the Entebbe raid. He resigned in 1977 in the wake of a financial scandal. Rabin was Israel's minister of defense for much of the 1980s, including during the outbreak of the First Intifada.

In 1992, Rabin was re-elected as prime minister on a platform embracing the Israeli–Palestinian peace process. He signed several historic agreements with the Palestinian leadership as part of the Oslo Accords. In 1994, Rabin won the Nobel Peace Prize together with long-time political rival Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Rabin also signed a peace treaty with Jordan in 1994. In November 1995, he was assassinated by an extremist named Yigal Amir, who opposed the terms of the Oslo Accords. Amir was arrested and convicted of Rabin's murder; he was sentenced to life imprisonment. Rabin was the first native-born prime minister of Israel, the only prime minister to be assassinated and the second to die in office after Levi Eshkol. Rabin has become a symbol of the Israeli–Palestinian peace process.

Yitzhak Shamir

Yitzhak Shamir (Hebrew: יצחק שמיר, listen ; born Yitzhak Yezernitsky; October 22, 1915 – June 30, 2012) was an Israeli politician and the seventh Prime Minister of Israel, serving two terms, 1983–84 and 1986–1992. Before the establishment of the state of Israel, Shamir was a leader of the Zionist paramilitary group Lehi. After the establishment of the Israeli state he served in the Mossad between 1955 and 1965, a Knesset Member, a Knesset Speaker and a Foreign Affairs Minister. Shamir was the country's third longest-serving prime minister after David Ben-Gurion and Benjamin Netanyahu.

Yuli-Yoel Edelstein

Yuli-Yoel Edelstein (Hebrew: יולי-יואל אדלשטיין, Russian: Ю́лий Ю́рьевич Эдельште́йн, Ukrainian: Ю́лий Ю́рійович Едельште́йн, born 5 August 1958) is an Israeli politician. One of the most prominent refuseniks in the Soviet Union, he has been Speaker of the Knesset since 2013.

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