/knes"et/, n.
the unicameral parliament of Israel.
[1945-50; < ModHeb kneset, post-Biblical Heb kaneseth gathering]

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(Hebrew: "Assembly") Unicameral national legislature of Israel.

The first Knesset opened in 1949. Its name and the number of its seats (120) are based on the Jewish assembly of biblical times; its traditions and organization are based on the Zionist Congress, the political system of the Jewish community in pre-Israel Palestine, and more loosely the British House of Commons. Its members are elected by proportional representation for four-year terms; candidates are chosen by their parties.

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▪ Israeli parliament
 unicameral parliament of Israel and supreme authority of that state. The first Knesset opened in Jerusalem on Feb. 16, 1949, and on the same day elected Chaim Weizmann (1874–1952) the first president of Israel. Many of its procedural rules (takkanoth (takkanah)) are similar to those of the British House of Commons. Israel did not adopt a formal, written constitution, but it later enacted basic laws on the Knesset (1958); on Israeli lands (1960); on the president (1964), who is elected by the Knesset for a five-year term and is eligible for reelection only once; and on government (1968).

      The 120-member Knesset is elected every four years under a system that provides for proportional representation for even quite small political parties. Voters (age 18 or older) choose among national lists of candidates (21 or older) offered by political parties and groups. (The whole nation is a single constituency; there are no districts.) If a party's list, for example, receives 5 percent of the vote, the first six persons (5 percent of 120) on that list become members of the Knesset. The parties determine the order of names on their lists. Since it is difficult for a single party to win a majority of the seats, government by coalition is common in Israel.

      The prime minister-elect names the Cabinet, the main policy-making body. Its existence is subject to a vote of confidence in the Knesset. Cabinet members are normally members of the Knesset, though nonmembers may be named. Bills approved as law are published in Reshumot (“Official Gazette,” 1948– ).

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Knesset — Israeli parliament, 1949, from Mishnaic Heb. keneseth gathering, assembly, from stem of Heb. kanas he gathered, assembled, collected …   Etymology dictionary

  • Knesset — [k nes′et] n. [ModHeb keneset, lit., assembly, gathering < kanas, to assemble] the unicameral legislature of Israel …   English World dictionary

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