Deputy leaders in Israel fall into four categories: Acting Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Vice Prime Minister and Alternate Prime Minister. Vice Prime Minister is honorary rather than official executive positions, but entitle the office-holder to a place in the cabinet. Deputy Prime Minister is an official office.
Both Acting Prime Ministers and Alternate Prime Minister take the place of the Prime Minister if he or she is temporarily incapacitated, while the incumbent is still in office.
If the Prime Minister is removed by impeachment, dies, or becomes permanently incapacitated, the cabinet appoints an Interim Prime Minister to serve until a new government is formed.
The designated Acting Prime Minister (Hebrew: ? ? , Memaleh Mekom Rosh HaMemshala lit. "Prime Minister's Place Holder", or "Prime Minister's stand-in") takes the role of Prime Minister as Acting Prime Minister, for up to 100 consecutive days, if the incumbent is temporarily incapacitated. Whilst in other countries the term "Acting Prime Minister" only refers to an individual actually performing the role, in Israel the term is also in use when a designated minister is allocated, even if they never actually perform the role. The incumbent minister must be also a Knesset member to be eligible for this role.
According to the Basic law: the Government, if such a position was not held by any of the incumbent ministers, in the event of the Prime Minister being unable to fulfill their duties temporarily, the cabinet would vote to appoint one of their own members, who is a Knesset member, as Acting Prime Minister for up to 100 consecutive days.
In the recently installed government of Benjamin Netanyahu, there is no designated Acting Prime Minister. Netanyahu appoints one of the Ministers from his party as Acting Prime Minister each time he is supposed to undergo a medical procedure under sedation or visits other countries.
There can be only one designated minister appointed to such position. However, the holder of this ministry position can hold other ministerial position, as the most recent designated Acting Prime Minister, Tzipi Livni, was also Minister of Foreign Affairs. Confusingly, the term is sometimes referred to as 'Vice Prime Minister', though a separate and different Vice Prime Minister role already exists. If the Prime Minister is abroad, the designated minister summons the government to cabinet meetings; if there is no such designated minister, in such event, the government will vote for one.
If the Prime Minister wants to replace the designated Acting Prime Minister (usually given to one of the Ministers designated during the forming of the government according to coalition agreements and political needs at the time), he then needs the approval vote of the government and the Knesset. However, the Prime Minister may fire the designated Acting Prime Minister, as he is authorized to fire any minister in his Cabinet.
An Acting Prime Minister will be standing-in for the incumbent (not assume office), acting in the Prime Minister's office, temporarily, and if a designated minister was allocated in advance, automatically, all while the incumbent is in office. However, any Acting Prime Minister will not assume office, automatically (as Interim Prime Minister), after 100 consecutive days, when the Prime Minister, legally, is deemed to be permanently incapacitated, since the "100 consecutive days" was set by law as a limit, not a delegated authority, inasmuch limit for the incumbent to be temporarily incapacitated in office and a limit for the Acting Prime Minister to act in the Incumbent's office.
The aftermath of any event, where the incumbent becomes permanently incapacitated (either declared as such or the "100 consecutive days" limit expired or else), as well as in the event of the incumbent's death or the incumbent was convicted of an offence, are addressed by the law separately. In these cases, the Government that is "deemed to have resigned" to become an interim government, and with the absence of a Prime Minister in office, requires a cabinet vote on one of its members (either the Acting Prime Minister or else) who must be a knesset member and (from the 2001 law) a member of the Prime Minister's Party as well, to assume office as an Interim Prime Minister, until a new government is placed in power (the 1968 law did not impose time limit on a "temporarily incapacitation" period of the Incumbent Prime Minister, but rather pending the return of the incumbent to resume his duties, and separately addressed only the event of death of the incumbent, while failing to address Permanent incapacitation or criminal conviction of the Incumbent Prime Minister).
Ehud Olmert, after standing-in for Prime Minister Sharon for 100 consecutive days, as acting Prime Minister, did not automatically assume office as an Interim Prime Minister. The Government voted to appoint him, and in addition, he was also a member of Prime Minister's Party, which enabled them to appoint him to the role
Practically, the use of this position started only 1984 during the 11th Knesset, with the first person to hold the position, Yitzhak Shamir, taking office on 13 September 1984. A Coalition deal between the Labour Alignment and Likud stipulated that Shimon Peres would be Prime Minister for the first two years of the Knesset term (out of four years), with Yitzhak Shamir serving as the designated Acting Prime Minister, and then swap places with Shamir for the next two. The major political parties, right-wing Likud party, then headed by Yitzhak Shamir, and Labour, then headed by Shimon Peres, did not gain enough seats in parliament, during the general election, to form a governing majority coalition, which enabled this coalition agreement to take place. The deal was continued into the 12th Knesset, but collapsed in 1990. The role of the designated Acting Prime Minister was limited and unattractive for any chairman of major party aspiring to get the top job.
The position was resurrected in 2003, with Ariel Sharon appointing Ehud Olmert to the post. As designated Acting Prime Minister, Olmert was called to take over the running of the government, following Sharon's stroke in the midst of elections season of early 2006, and continued his role as Acting Prime Minister, after the election were held, and after Sharon & Olmert's Party were designated to form the new government. Days after the election, Sharon reached the 100 consecutive days of Incapacitation (making him legally permanently incapacitated), and then the pre-elections Interim government voted on Olmert to be the Interim Prime Minister, and he fully assumed office as an Interim Prime Minister, just days before forming his own new government, in the aftermath of the election, on 4 May 2006, to become the official Prime Minister. Tzipi Livni then was appointed to the post, in Olmert's Government.
Basic Law: the Government (2001):
|Name||Party||Dates in Office|
|Yitzhak Shamir||Likud||13 September 1984- 20 October 1986|
|Shimon Peres||Labour Alignment||20 October 1986- 15 March 1990|
|Ehud Olmert||Kadima||28 February 2003- 4 January 2006|
|Tzipi Livni||Kadima||4 May 2006- 31 March 2009|
The interim prime minister (Hebrew: , Rosh HaMemshala Ba-foal lit. "prime minister de facto") is appointed by the government if the incumbent is dead or permanently incapacitated, or if his tenure was ended due to a criminal conviction.
Israeli law distinguishes the terms acting prime minister ( ? ), filling in for the incumbent prime minister, temporarily, and acting in the incumbent's office, while the incumbent is in office, and an interim prime minister in office. Only if the incumbent prime minister becomes temporarily incapacitated will the acting prime minister act in the incumbent's office and will be standing in for him for up to 100 consecutive days, while the incumbent is in office. Legally, the "100 consecutive days" limit, in the language of the law, only stipulates that the incumbent then is deemed to be permanently incapacitated and that the limited time for an acting prime minister to act in the incumbent's office is over.
The 1968 law (prior to the 1992 and 2001 basic laws of government) did not impose a time limit on a "temporarily incapacitation" period of the incumbent prime minister, but rather pending the return of the incumbent to resume his duties, and separately addressed only the event of death of the incumbent for appointing an interim prime minister, while failing to address Permanent incapacitation or criminal conviction of the incumbent prime minister.
Separately, the law of 2001 stipulates that in any event where the incumbent prime minister becomes permanently incapacitated (either declared as such or "100 consecutive days" limit expired or else), or if the incumbent died or ceased being prime minister due to a criminal conviction, the government that is "deemed to have resigned", to become an interim government, continues to govern until a new government is placed in power, and in the absence of a prime minister in office, they then must vote on one of their incumbent ministers (either the acting prime minister or else) to fully assume office as the interim Prime minister, if he or she meet the requirements.
While the acting prime minister must be a Knesset member to meet the requirements, the interim prime minister must be a member of the prime minister's party as well. Until the 2001 basic law: the government, both the acting and interim prime ministers were only required to be a Knesset member in addition to being a member of the Government. However, before and after the 2001 law, an interim prime minister would not be appointed unless the government would be voting on one of their members (either the acting prime minister or else) to be the interim prime minister until a new government is placed in power.
In 2006, Ehud Olmert, after standing in for Prime Minister Sharon for 100 consecutive days, as acting prime minister, did not automatically assume office as an interim prime minister. The government voted to appoint him, and in addition, he was also a member of prime minister's party, which enabled them to appoint him to the role.
An interim prime minister does not have to form a majority coalition in the Knesset, in order to get their approval vote (as a prime minister is required to do), and can assume office immediately, until a new government is placed in power.
Shimon Peres was the foreign minister when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, and was voted unanimously to assume office as an interim prime minister until a new Government would be placed in power (that he later formed by himself). Yigal Allon was also voted to be the interim prime minister after Prime Minister Levi Eshkol suddenly died and served until Golda Meir formed her government.
Both the interim and acting prime ministers' authorities are identical to those of a prime minister, with the exception of not having the authority to dissolve the Knesset.
There are other cases (all other), not pending the situation of the incumbent prime minister's ability to continue to serve, where the Government becomes an interim government, while the incumbent prime minister is in office. In these cases, the incumbent prime minister is commonly referred as an "interim" prime minister, as a reference to change of the legal status only of the government under him. However, legally he is the prime minister, and only the government under him is legally an interim government (see interim government below).
Basic Law: the Government (2001):
|Name||Party||Dates in office|
|Yigal Alon||Labour Alignment||26 February 1969- 17 March 1969|
|Shimon Peres||Labour Alignment||4 November 1995- 22 November 1995|
|Ehud Olmert||Kadima||14 April 2006- 4 May 2006|
|Benjamin Netanyahu||Likud||9 April 2019- 17 May 2020|
An 'interim government' (Hebrew: ?, Memshelet Ma'avar lit. "transitional government") is the same government, having been changed in their legal status, after the death, resignation, permanent incapacitation, or criminal conviction of the prime minister, as well as after the prime minister's request to dissolve the Knesset (Israeli parliament) was published through the president's decree, or after it was defeated by a motion of no confidence (these actions are regarded by the law as "the Government shall be deemed to have resigned"), or after election and before the forming of a new government (legally, "Newly elected Knesset" period), and in all the cases above, it continues to govern as an interim government, until a new government is placed in power, accordingly to the principle of "government continuity", in order to prevent a government void.
If the incumbent prime minister can no longer serve (died, permanent incapacitation or criminal conviction), when the government is "deemed to have resigned" to become an interim government, they appoint a different person from their own government to the role of an interim prime minister (either the acting prime minister or else) until a new government is placed in power. This is a legal reference both to the change of a prime minister in office and in same government, a change in their legal status.
In all other cases, when the government becomes an interim government, and the incumbent prime minister is able to continue to serve also until a new government is placed in power, the prime minister is commonly referred also as an "interim" prime minister, as a reference only to the change of the legal status of the same government under him. However, legally, he is the prime minister, and only the government under him is legally an interim government.
An incumbent prime minister running an interim government occurs either if the government is "deemed to have resigned" to become an interim government, but the incumbent is able to continue to serve also until a new government is placed in power; if the incumbent resigned, government was defeated in motion of no confidence, the prime minister's request to dissolve the Knesset was published through the president's decree; Or else, during the period of time after elections were held and before the forming of a new government, as defined by the law as the period of time of a "newly elected Knesset", and if they have not become one already, the elections will turn them into an interim government as well, as in the cases of the end of a full Knesset term (or after extension term), or after the Knesset has dissolved itself (but not until election day).
A resignation of the government or elections, consequentially, turning the Cabinet into an interim government (i.e. the interim Cabinet), legally requires to start the process of forming a new government, through the only single elected branch in the general elections, the Knesset, to have an approval "vote of confidence" of the majority on an official prime minister and the government he formed there. If elections were held, the process goes through the newly Knesset designated, but if it occurred during the four years term of the existing Knesset, the process will go back to the existing elected branch and will take place there, and only should that fail, as a result, the existing elected branch, the Knesset, will be "deemed" to have dissolved itself, and early elections will be held. In all cases above, the interim government will continue to govern until one of those processes is successful.
An official prime minister is or was always voted, along with the government he formed in the parliament, in an approval vote of confidence by the majority of this elected branch, the Knesset, with the expectation to serve, along with his government, until the end of the Knesset full term, either if he began serving after a newly elected Knesset or in the midst of the Knesset term, unless his government later became an "interim government", that is legally "deemed" to have lost that vote, and as opposed to an interim prime minister, appointed by such a government, and without the approval vote of the Knesset, to serve along only until a new government will be placed in power.
If the elected branch, the Knesset, decides on its own to dissolve itself, or is legally "deemed" to have dissolved itself separately, necessarily, leading to early elections, the cabinet is regarded not to have changed in their legal status. However, once elections were held, they automatically become an interim government.
An acting prime minister, standing in for the incumbent, while he is temporarily incapacitated, does not turn the government into an interim government (nor does the incumbent's temporary situation). However, if the incumbent became temporarily incapacitated, while already running an interim government, the acting Prime minister will be filling in for the incumbent as well.
The law does not impose any impediments on an interim government (except that in the past ministers were banned from resigning and today it has turned into a privilege, were they may resign and a successor may be appointed without the approval vote of the Knesset), but rather addresses the definition of government continuity for the purpose of preventing a government void situation. However, a Supreme Court ruling on the matter, that stipulated that such a government that does not enjoy the approval vote of the Knesset must act in "restraint in using its authorities, in all matters that do not bear any particular urgency or necessity to act upon them", has opened the door for legal controversies at times, as to what exactly does this legal determination mean.
|Prime minister||Way of appointment||Status of previous PM||Legal status of government||Type of government|
|Interim PM||Cabinet member who is also a member of the Knesset and PM's party, voted by the cabinet||Died||Government deemed to have resigned||Interim government|
|Interim PM||Cabinet member who is also a member of the Knesset and PM's party, voted by the cabinet||criminal conviction||Government deemed to have resigned||interim government|
|Interim PM||Cabinet member who is also a member of the Knesset and PM's party, voted by the cabinet||Permanently incapacitated||Government deemed to have resigned||interim government|
|Acting PM||Automatically, had a minister who is also a Knesset member been designated (else, Cabinet vote on one such Cabinet member)||Temporary incapacitated||(Regular) government 1|
received the Knesset's confidence vote
|Same incumbent outgoing PM - resigned||Government deemed to have resigned||interim government|
received the Knesset's confidence vote
|Same incumbent outgoing PM - Government was defeated in a motion of no confidence||Government deemed to have resigned||interim government|
received the Knesset's confidence vote
|Same incumbent outgoing PM - PM's request to dissolve the Knesset was published through the president's decree||Government deemed to have resigned||interim government|
|PM||Deemed to continue having the Knesset's confidence vote||Same Incumbent PM - Knesset dissolved itself - Election day was set||Government|
received the Knesset's confidence vote
|Same incumbent outgoing PM - Knesset dissolved itself - elections were held, new Parliament elected||interim government|
received the Knesset's confidence vote
|Same incumbent outgoing PM - End of Knesset's full term (or after extension term) - elections were held, new parliament elected||interim government|
1 Unless the government already been an interim government, in case the prime minister resigned, government was defeated in a motion of no confidence, or the prime minister's request to dissolve the Knesset was published through the President's decree, and only after this occurred, the prime minister became temporarily incapacitated (as was in Ehud Olmert's case, when Sharon's request to dissolve the Knesset was published through the President's decree, and only there after, did he become temporarily incapacitated).
2 Basic Law: the Government (2001); Section 30 on Government Continuity (addresses the continuity of the prime minister, after he has resigned his post and appointing an interim prime minister), Section 30 also addresses the following provisions; Criminal conviction of the prime minister - 18; Resignation of a prime minister - 19; Death or permanent Incapacitation of the prime minister - 20, A prime minister who ceased being a Knesset Member (Regarded as if he has resigned his post) - 21; Government defeated in Motion of no confidence - 28; Resignation of the Government after the prime minister's request to dissolve the Knesset have been published through the President's decree - 29, and defines the "Outgoing Government" according to these clauses (Whereas the Supreme Court referred to it as the "interim government", as it is well known). Clause 30b also refers to the Outgoing Government during the times of "Newly elected Knesset" [parliament], hence, if the government's status had not been already an interim government during "Newly elected Knesset", according to the clauses above, then in the event of a "Newly elected Knesset" - in conjugation with the basic law: The Knesset, in the event of the end of the Knesset's full term (or after an extension term) or after the knesset has dissolved itself earlier (but not until election day) - the government then becomes an interim government as well.
3 Exceptions to the "outgoing government"; on one hand, according to the Basic law: the Government (2001), as opposed to past laws, Ministers may resign their post, and the government may appoint a successor without the approval of the Knesset. On the other hand, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that "During this period of time, the Government is bound by restraint in using its authorities, regarding all matters that do not particularly bare necessity or urgency to act upon them during the interim period"., and legal controversies erupt at times, over the meaning of this legal determination :
The position of Deputy Prime Minister (Hebrew: , Segan Rosh HaMemshela) is an honorary title carried by an incumbent Minister in the Israeli Government under the Basic law:the Government, that states the follows: "A minister may be a Deputy Prime Minister" (but no more than that). Thus, there is no limit to the number of deputies a Prime Minister can appoint (as opposed to an Acting Prime Minister, that can only be one).
The title was scrapped from 1992 to 1996 during the term of the 13th Knesset, but was resurrected by Binyamin Netanyahu in 1996 when he appointed four Deputies. In Ehud Olmert's cabinet there were three, one from his own party, and the leaders of the two next largest parties in his coalition (Labour and Shas). The current cabinet led by Benjamin Netanyahu again has four deputy PMs, one from Netanyahu's own Likud party and one each from coalition partners Shas, Independence, and Yisrael Beiteinu.
Basic Law: the Government (2001):
This section needs to be updated.January 2014)(
|Government||Name||Party||Dates in Office|
|3||Eliezer Kaplan ||Mapai||25 June 1952- 13 July 1952|
|11-12||Abba Eban||Mapai||26 June 1963- 12 January 1966|
|13-17||Yigal Allon||Alignment||1 July 1968- 10 March 1974|
|18||Simha Erlikh||Likud||20 June 1977- 5 August 1981|
|Yigael Yadin||Dash, Democratic Movement, Independent|
|19||Simha Erlikh ||Likud||5 August 1981- 19 June 1983|
|David Levy||Likud||3 November 1981- 10 October 1983|
|20||David Levy||Likud||10 October 1983- 13 September 1984|
|21-23||David Levy||Likud||13 September 1984- 11 June 1990|
|24||David Levy||Likud||11 June 1990- 13 July 1992|
|27||David Levy||Gesher||18 June 1996- 6 January 1998|
|Zevulon Hammer ||National Religious Party||18 June 1996- 20 January 1998|
|Rafael Eitan||Tzomet||18 June 1996- 6 July 1999|
|28||Yitzhak Mordechai||Centre Party||6 July 1999- 30 May 2000|
|David Levy||One Israel||6 July 1999- 4 August 2000|
|Binyamin Ben-Eliezer||One Israel||6 July 1999- 7 March 2001|
|29||Shimon Peres||Labour||7 March 2001- 2 November 2002|
|Silvan Shalom||Likud||7 March 2001- 28 February 2003|
|Natan Sharansky||Yisrael BaAliyah|
|Eli Yishai||Shas||7 March 2001 - 23 May 2002|
3 June 2002 - 28 February 2003
|30||Tommy Lapid||Shinui||28 February 2003- 4 December 2004|
|Silvan Shalom||Likud||28 February 2003- 15 January 2006|
|31||Amir Peretz||Labour||4 May 2006- 18 June 2007|
|Avigdor Lieberman||Yisrael Beiteinu||30 October 2006- 16 January 2008|
|Shaul Mofaz||Kadima||4 May 2006- 31 March 2009|
|Ehud Barak||Labour||18 June 2007- 31 March 2009|
|32||Avigdor Lieberman||Yisrael Beiteinu||1 April 2009- 14 December 2012|
|Ehud Barak||Labour, Independence||1 April 2009- 18 March 2013|
|Shaul Mofaz||Kadima||9 May 2012- 18 March 2013|
The post of Vice Prime Minister (Hebrew: ? , Mishneh Rosh HaMemshela) is also sometimes referred to as Vice Premier, is an honorary title carried by an incumbent Minister of the Israeli Government, that does not exist under any Israeli law, and has no statutory meaning, which was originally created especially for one of Israeli founding fathers, Shimon Peres.
After Amram Mitzna resigned as head of the Labour Party following the party's defeat in the 2003 elections, Peres was once again appointed as temporary chairman of the party, until a primary for leadership among member of party will be held.
When, in early 2005, Ariel Sharon's right-wing coalition was in trouble due to disagreements over the disengagement plan, Peres led his party into Sharon's coalition for the purpose of supporting the plan. During the coalition negotiations, Peres demanded to be appointed Acting Prime Minister, but was turned down, since the position was already occupied by Ehud Olmert. Labour then demanded that the government change the Basic Law: the Government, in order to enable two acting Prime Ministers at the same time, but received no support for such action.
A compromise was reached by Labour's Haim Ramon, in which Peres received the honorary title of Vice Prime Minister, which included provisions within the agreement, defining his jurisdiction within Sharon's government, but had no legal meaning, as the law regarded Peres and the Vice Prime Minister position as no other than just another title for an incumbent minister within the Israeli government.
Although Peres lost the position when Labour left the government in November 2005, he regained it in May 2006 following his defection to Kadima party and the party's victory in the 2006 elections. However, he resigned from the post on the day he won the election for President in June 2007.
Haim Ramon was appointed to the post in a cabinet reshuffle in July 2007, serving until the end of the Olmert government in March 2009. Silvan Shalom and Moshe Ya'alon were both appointed Vice Prime Minister in the Netanyahu government.
|Name||Party||Government||Term start||Term end|
|Shimon Peres||Labour||30||10 January 2005||23 November 2005|
|Shimon Peres||Kadima||31||4 May 2006||13 June 2007|
|Haim Ramon||Kadima||31||4 July 2007||31 March 2009|
|Silvan Shalom||Likud||32||31 March 2009||18 March 2013|
|Moshe Ya'alon||Likud||32||31 March 2009||18 March 2013|
|Shaul Mofaz||Kadima||32||9 May 2012||19 July 2012|
|Silvan Shalom||Likud||34||14 May 2015||27 December 2015|
|Moshe Ya'alon||Likud||34||27 December 2015||22 May 2016|