Last updated on: 10/13/2015 10:02:13 AM PST
How Is Israel Governed?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in "The State: Political Structure," section of its website (accessed Oct. 6, 2015), wrote:

"Israel is a parliamentary democracy consisting of legislative, executive and judicial branches. Its institutions are the presidency, the Knesset (parliament), the government (cabinet of ministers) and the judiciary.

The system is based on the principle of separation of powers, in which the executive branch (the government) is subject to the confidence of the legislative branch (the Knesset) and the independence of the judiciary is guaranteed by law."

State Diagram

Oct. 6, 2015 - Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

J Street, a "pro-Israel, pro-peace" American nonprofit organization, in the "Israel Elections 101" section of its Israeli Election 2015 resource site (accessed Oct. 6, 2015), wrote:

"Israel has a parliamentary system based on nation-wide proportional representation. This means that voters elect nationally-registered political factions—not local candidates.

Each faction receives representation in the 120-seat Knesset (parliament) proportional to how many votes it gets. Factions must meet a threshold of at least 3.25 percent of the vote to qualify for seats in the Knesset. Factions may determine their own list of candidates, including by internal election or appointment.

Knesset elections must be held once every four years, though many coalitions do not survive a full term. In moments of political instability or stalemate, a majority of the Knesset may vote to dissolve the body and call early elections to be held 90-150 days later.

Israeli voter turnout is traditionally very high—between 60 and 80 percent.

After an election, Israel’s president consults with faction leaders and selects the Knesset member most likely to form a viable coalition government of 61 or more seats. This member is often, but not required to be, the leader of the faction that has won the most seats. The selected member then has 42 days to negotiate with other factions and form a coalition, which is presented to the Knesset for a vote of confidence. If they succeed, that member becomes the next prime minister."

Oct. 6, 2015 - J Street 

The CIA, in the "Israel" section of its World Factbook, available from www.cia.gov (updated Sep. 29, 2015), wrote:

"Government type: Parliamentary democracy…

Constitution: No formal constitution; the Declaration of Establishment (1948), the Basic Laws of Israel enacted by the Knesset beginning in 1958, the Nationality Law (1952), and the Law of Return (1950) have constitutional law status…

Legal system: Mixed legal system of English common law, British Mandate regulations, and Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religious laws…

Executive branch

Chief of state: President Reuven RIVLIN (since 27 July 2014)

Head of government: Prime Minister Binyamin NETANYAHU (since 31 March 2009)

Cabinet: Cabinet selected by prime minister and approved by the Knesset

Elections/appointments: President indirectly elected by the Knesset for a 7-year term (limited to 1 term); election last held on 10 June 2014 (next to be held in 2021 but can be called earlier); following legislative elections, the president, in consultation with party leaders, selects a Knesset member as prime minister most likely to form a new government…

Legislative branch

Description: Unicameral Knesset (120 seats; members directly elected in a single nationwide constituency by proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms)

Elections: last held on 17 March 2015 (next to be held in 2019, but can be called earlier)

Judicial branch

Highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and 14 judges)

Judge selection and term of office: judges selected by the Judicial Selection Committee, made up of all 3 branches of the government and chaired by the Minister of Justice; judges can serve up to mandatory retirement at age 70

Subordinate courts: district and magistrate courts; national and regional labor courts; special and religious courts."

Sep. 29, 2015 - Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) - The World Factbook 

The Jewish Virtual Library, an online encyclopedia, in the "Israel Government and Politics: How Does the Israeli Government Work?," section of its website (accessed Oct. 6, 2015), wrote:

"The Electoral System
The elections in Israel are general, equal and secret. On the national level they are held at least once every four years, and on the municipal level at least once every five years. Israel has a system of proportional representation, and the whole state is considered a single constituency. Every party running for election presents a list of candidates, and the number of candidates entering the house of representatives is proportional to the percentage of support the list receives.

Every citizen over the age of 18, whose name appears in the list of voters, may vote.

The Legislative Branch: The Knesset
The Knesset is the house of representatives of the State of Israel. The Basic Law: The Knesset, states that the seat of the Knesset is Jerusalem, and that upon election it will have 120 members…

The Knesset fulfills its functions by means of two arms: the plenary in which all the Knesset members sit and the Knesset committees.

The plenary holds debates within the framework of legislation, government statements, motions for the agenda, motions of noconfidence and questions, and the deliberations usually end with a vote…

The function of the committees, in addition to dealing with bills, is to supervise the work of the Government Ministries and to hold debates on issues within the realms for which they are responsible, and which are of public interest…

There are four types of Knesset committees that function on a regular basis:

- Permanent Committees (12)…
- Special Committees (3)…
- Parliamentary Inquiry…
- Ethics Committee…


In addition, there are two types of committees in the Knesset which convene only when needed:

- The Interpretations Committee…
- Public Committees…


The Presidency
The President of the State is elected by the Knesset in a secret vote, and primarily fulfills ceremonial functions as head of State.

Candidates for the presidency are customarily proposed by the large parties, and are usually well­known public figures...

The Judiciary
The courts deal with cases of persons charged with a breach of the law. Charges are brought up by citizens against other citizens, by the state against citizens, and even by citizens against the state.

The sessions of the courts of law are usually public, unless it is decided to hold closed hearings under special circumstances. When more than one judge is presiding, and the judges do not agree on a verdict, the opinion of the majority is decisive. Israel does not have trials by jury."

Oct. 6, 2015 - Jewish Virtual Library