Following Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's hospitalization on Sunday night, many began to speculate on what would happen were the prime minister unable to continue in his position.
The Basic Law: Government takes into account two scenarios in which the prime minister is unable to continue with his duties. The first is if he dies in office. The second is if he is permanently incapacitated.
According to Paragraph 20 (a), if the Prime Minister dies, his government is regarded as having immediately resigned.
According to Paragraph 20 (b), if the Prime Minister is permanently incapacitated, the government is regarded as having resigned after 101 days, during which time his deputy will serve as Prime Minister in his place.
According to Paragraph 7 (a), in case of the death of the Prime Minister, the President of the State will consult with the Knesset factions in order to give a mandate to an MK to form a new government. In such a case, the candidate will have 28 days to form a government and may obtain a maximum extension of 14 more days to do so.
Although the law does not specifically refer to a situation where the Prime Minister is incapacitated and his deputy replaces him for 101 days, it appears from Paragraph 7 (a) that the President has seven days in which to give a mandate to an MK to form a new government.
The death or incapacitation of a Prime Minister does not automatically lead to new elections. But should that happen in the case of Sharon, new elections have already been called and will be held.