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ISRAEL

Israel is a parliamentary democracy. Its governmental system is based on several basic laws enacted by its unicameral parliament, the Knesset. The president (chief of state) is elected by the Knesset for a 5-year term.

The prime minister (head of government) exercises executive power and has in the past been selected by the president as the party leader most able to form a government. In the May 1996 elections, Israelis for the first time voted for the prime minister directly, in accordance with recent legislation. The members of the cabinet must be collectively approved by the Knesset.

The Knesset's 120 members are elected by secret ballot to 4-year terms, although the prime minister may decide to call for new elections before the end of the 4-year term. Voting is for party lists rather than for individual candidates, and the total number of seats assigned each party reflects that party's percentage of the vote. Successful Knesset candidates are drawn from the lists in order of party-assigned rank. Under the present electoral system, all members of the Knesset are elected at large.

The independent judicial system includes secular and religious courts. The courts' right of judicial review of the Knesset's legislation is limited. Judicial interpretation is restricted to problems of execution of laws and validity of subsidiary legislation. The highest court in Israel is the Supreme Court, whose judges are approved by the president.
CURRENT GOVERNMENT
Pres. (Acting) Dalia ITZIK
Prime Min. Ehud OLMERT
Dep. Prime Min. Tzipora "Tzipi" LIVNI
Min. of Agriculture & Rural Development Shalom SIMHON
Min. of Communications Ariel ATIAS
Min. of Defense Amir PERETZ
Min. for Development of the Negev & Galilee Shimon PERES
Min. of Education Yael "Yuli" TAMIR
Min. of Environment Gideon EZRA
Min. of Finance Avraham HERSCHSON
Min. of Foreign Affairs Tzipora "Tzipi" LIVNI
Min. of Health Yaacov BEN YIZRI
Min. of Housing & Construction Meir SHEETRIT
Min. of Immigrant Absorption Zeev BOIM
Min. of Industry, Trade, & Labor Eliyahu YISHAI
Min. of Interior Roni BAR-ON
Min. of Internal (Public) Security Avraham DICHTER
Min. of Justice Daniel FRIEDMANN
Min. of National Infrastructures Binyamin BEN ELIEZER
Min. for Pensioner Affairs Rafael "Rafi" EITAN
Min. in Charge of Religious Affairs in the Prime Min.'s Office Yitzhak COHEN
Min. of Social Affairs Yitzhak HERZOG
Min. of Science, Culture, & Sport Ghalib MAJADILAH
Min. of Strategic Affairs Avigdor LIEBERMAN
Min. of Tourism Yitzhak AHARONOVICH
Min. of Transportation & Road Safety Shaul MOFAZ
Min. Without Portfolio Eitan CABEL
Min. Without Portfolio Yitzhak COHEN
Min. Without Portfolio Yaacov EDRI
Min. Without Portfolio Meshulam NAHARI
Attorney Gen. Menachem MAZUZ
Governor, Bank of Israel Stanley FISCHER
Ambassador to the US Salai MERIDOR
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York Danny GILLERMAN