The Knesset is the legislative branch of the Israeli government. Its name, whose Hebrew translation means literally 'the gathering' or 'the assembly, is a derivative of the ancient Great Assembly,' the gathering of 120 sages that governed the Jewish people between the end of the Biblical prophets until 200 B.C. The Knesset is the national legislature of the State of Israel and passes all of the country's laws, in addition to electing the president, approving the cabinet and supervising governmental work. The Knesset functions as the unicameral national legislature in Israel in a parliamentary manner, with elections forming members of Knesset (MKs) held at least every fourth year. Knesset history The Knesset first convened on February 14th, 1949, taking over for transitional governments that had existed since Israel declared independence on May 14th, 1948, and met in the Jewish Agency building in Jerusalem. Between March and December of that year the legislature was moved to Tel Aviv, the only period the Knesset was not seated in Jerusalem. Following a four-month return to the Jewish Agency building, the Knesset moved to King George Street in the city center, where it remained until the current complex was opened in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat Ram, August 31st, 1966. The Knesset complex was funded by British Liberal politician James de Rothschild and has underwent two major additions, completed in 1992 and 2007. Knesset functions The Knesset sets the laws of the State of Israel and oversees governmental works via a series of 12 permanent committees, which include ones focused on foreign affairs and defense, education and culture, economics and the status of women, among others. Special committees can also be formed when necessity arises, such as the central elections committee and the public petitions committee, among others. The Knesset, as a parliamentary system, is presided over by the Speaker of Knesset and passes laws based off a simple majority of the 120-member voting bloc. Israel's prime minister, as head of the ruling party, is determined by the party best able to form a coalition comprised of at the minimum a simple majority. Knesset seats are allocated based on proportional representation using the D'Hondt method and parties are admitted to Knesset when passing an election threshold of 3.25 percent. Members of Knesset have the ability to raise a vote of no confidence in the government or in government ministers, a move that was only once successful in Knesset's history. Likewise, in order for a prime minister to be named, the candidate must receive a vote of confidence on the Knesset floor before taking office. Knesset assemblies There have been 20 assemblies of Knesset in Israel's history, each referred to by its election number. The First Knesset, under the auspices of prime minister David Ben-Gurion, was in session from 1949 until 1951. Elections occurred by and large every fourth year, unless elections were called early. However, no Knesset term lasted fewer than three years, except for the 19th Knesset, which lasted from 2013 until 2015.
Read More

Government makes final push to pass endangered Metro Law

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman all called to pass the bill as soon as possible.

Israel elections: Knesset dispersal bill passes first reading

The opposition and coalition still have not reached agreement on over 20 pending bills in the plenum.

Netanyahu is standing in the way of stable government - opinion

Only an authentic unity government can provide Israel with a stable workable government. Unfortunately, as long as Netanyahu is leader of the Likud that is not possible.

Israel elections: No light at end of the political tunnel - analysis

If the last year has taught the country anything, it is that this state cannot be governed by that narrow of a majority.


Israel's electoral threshold: Will it change and who will be affected?

A new poll examined whether the Israeli public wants the electoral threshold to change ahead of the upcoming Knesset election.

Bennett touts Gaza calm as prime minister ends one-year rule

Some of the government's achievements, he said, involved economic growth, lowering unemployment and bringing the deficit down to zero.

The Lapid-Bennett experiment was a heroic success - opinion

MIDDLE ISRAEL: This, in a nutshell, is what the approaching election – the fifth Netanyahu has imposed on the Jewish state in less than four years – will be all about.

In Israeli elections, incoming Prime Minister Yair Lapid has head start

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: The benefits of running for prime minister while serving as acting prime minister.


Beware false election narratives from both the Left and the Right - opinion

Israel continues to be a free, enlightened, creative and exciting place. Do not let radical electioneering disfigure that noble reality.

My Word: Political repeat cycle and spin

If we’re going to look like fools, I’d rather have a pleasant silly season than witness the political theater of the absurd. 

Subscribe for our daily newsletter
Subscribe for our daily newsletter

By subscribing I accept the terms of use and privacy policy