Israeli Prime Ministers Since Establishment of the State in 1948

List of Prime Ministers, Appointment Procedure and Their Parties

srael Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Current Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Thomas Lohnes/StringerGetty Images

Since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, the prime minister is the head of the Israeli government and the most powerful figure in Israeli politics. Although the president of Israel is the country's head of state, his powers are largely ceremonial; the prime minister holds most of the real power. The official residence of the prime minister, Beit Rosh Hamemshala, is in Jerusalem.

The Knesset is the 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 prime minister is ceremonially appointed by the president, approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government.

Israel's Prime Ministers Since 1948

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 then presents a government platform and must receive a vote of confidence 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.

Israeli Prime Minister Years Party
David Ben-Gurion 1948-1954 Mapai
Moshe Sharett 1954-1955 Mapai
David Ben-Gurion 1955-1963 Mapai
Levi Eshkol 1963-1969 Mapai/Alignment/Labor
Golda Meir 1969-1974 Alignment/Labor
Yitzhak Rabin 1974-1977 Alignment/Labor
Menachem Begin 1977-1983 Likud
Yitzhak Shamir 1983-1984 Likud
Shimon Peres 1984-1986 Alignment/Labor
Yitzhak Shamir 1986-1992 Likud
Yitzhak Rabin 1992-1995 Labor
Shimon Peres 1995-1996 Labor
Benjamin Netanyahu 1996-1999 Likud
Ehud Barak 1999-2001 One Israel/Labor
Ariel Sharon 2001-2006 Likud/Kadima
Ehud Olmert 2006-2009 Kadima
Benjamin Netanyahu 2009-present Likud

Order of Succession

If the prime minister dies in office, the cabinet chooses an interim prime minister, to run the government until a new government is placed in power.

According to Israeli law, if a prime minister is temporarily incapacitated rather than dies, power is transferred to the acting prime minister, until the prime minister recovers, for up to 100 days. If the prime minister is declared permanently incapacitated, or that period expires, the President of Israel oversees the process of assembling a new governing coalition, and in the meantime, the acting prime minister or other incumbent minister is appointed by the cabinet to serve as an interim prime minister.

Parliamentary Parties of the Prime Ministers

The Mapai Party was the party of the first prime minister of Israel during the formation of the state. It was considered the dominant force in Israeli politics until its merger into the modern-day Labor Party in 1968. The party introduced progressive reforms such as the establishment of a welfare state, providing a minimum income, security, and access to housing subsidies and health and social services.

The Alignment was a group of consisting of the Mapai and Ahdut Ha'avoda-Po'alei Zion parties around the time of the sixth Knesset. The group later included the newly formed Israel Labor Party and Mapam. The Independent Liberal Party joined the Alignment around the 11th Knesset.

The Labor Party was a parliamentary group formed in the course of the 15th Knesset after Gesher left One Israel and included the Labor Party and Meimad, which was a moderate religious party, that never ran independently in Knesset elections.

One Israel, the party of Ehud Barak, was made up of the Labor Party, Gesher and Meimad during the 15th Knesset.

The Kadima was established towards the end of the 16th Knesset, a new parliamentary group, Achrayut Leumit, which means "National Responsibility," split off from the Likud. Approximately two months later, Acharayut Leumit changed its name to Kadima.

The Likud was established in 1973 around the time of the elections for the eighth Knesset. It consisted of the Herut Movement, the Liberal Party, the Free Center, the National List and Greater Israel Activists.