- For Beit Knesset, a Jewish place of worship, see Synagogue.
The Knesset (כנסת, lit. Assembly, الكنيست) is the legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.
The Knesset sits on a hilltop in western Jerusalem in a district known as Sheikh Badr
before the 1948 Arab-Israeli War
. The building was financed by James A. de Rothschild
as a gift to the State of Israel. It was built on land leased from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem
Before the construction of its permanent home, the Knesset met in the Jewish Agency
building in Jerusalem, the Kessem Cinema building in Tel Aviv and the Froumine building in Jerusalem.
- February 14, 1949: First meeting of the Constituent Assembly, Jewish Agency, Jerusalem
- March 8, 1949-December 14, 1949: Kessem Cinema in Tel Aviv (Migdal HaOpera is situated there today)
- December 26, 1949-March 8, 1950: Jewish Agency, Jerusalem
- March 13, 1950: Froumine Building, King George Street, Jerusalem.
- 1957: James A. de Rothschild informs Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion of his decision to finance the construction of a permanent Knesset building
- October 14, 1958: Cornerstone-laying for new Knesset building
- August 31, 1966: Dedication of new building (in the days of the Sixth Knesset)
- 1981: Construction of new wing begins
- 1992: New wing opens
- 2005: Construction of another new wing
Operation of the Knesset
The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset enacts laws, elects the prime minister (although s/he is ceremonially appointed by the President), supervises the work of the government, reserves the power to remove the President of the State and the State Comptroller from office and to dissolve itself and call new elections.
The Knesset first convened on February 14, 1949. Every 4 years (or less if early elections are held, as is often the case), 120 members of the Knesset (MK) are elected by Israeli citizens who must be at least 18 years old to vote. The Government of Israel must be approved by a majority vote of the Knesset.
The Knesset has de jure parliamentary supremacy and can pass any laws by a simple majority, even those that conflict with the Basic Laws of Israel, as it is also a Constituent Assembly. Nonetheless, the Knesset's right to function effectively has been greatly curtailed due to the inherent flaws of the low threshold party list proportional representation that usually results in a fractious government dependent on unstable coalitions. Hence, de facto, the Supreme Court of Israel has greatly expanded its authority through judicial review to nearly every aspect of Knesset legislation at the expense of the Knesset's authority.
The Knesset is guarded by the Knesset Guard.
Each Knesset session is generally known by its election number. Thus the Knesset elected by Israel's first election in 1949 is known as the First Knesset
. The current Knesset, elected in 2006 is the Seventeenth Knesset.
The composition of the current Knesset was determined by the 2006 election
. At present there are 18 parties represented in the Knesset on 12 lists (some parties run for election together on joint lists). Though it has not yet happened in the current session, in every Knesset to date parties have split up during the Knesset's term, leading to the creation of new parties or resulting in MKs sitting as independents.
The parties in the current Knesset are shown in the table below. Those in bold are part of the governing coalition.
* The National Union is an alliance of Ahi, Moledet and Tkuma.
** United Torah Judaism is an alliance of Agudat Israel and Degel HaTorah.