Israeli Prime Ministers

Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel. Editorial credit: Alexandros Michailidis /
Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel. Editorial credit: Alexandros Michailidis /

In Israel, the Prime Minister is the leader of government and the most powerful political person in the country. He is the leader of the party with the majority of seats in the governing coalition. The president, who is the head of state, wields ceremonial powers compared to the Prime Minister. The official residence is in Jerusalem. There have been twelve Prime Ministers and caretakers since the state of Israel was founded in 1948.

Prime Ministers Of Israel Since 1948

David Ben Gurion

He was the founder of the State of Israel and became the founding Prime Minister. He later also served as the third Prime Minister. His passion for Zionism led him to lead the World Zionist Organization in 1946. He led the formal declaration of the independence of the state of Israel. He is regarded as the founding father of the Jewish state. Upon the founding of the state, he led the country in the 1948 Israeli-Arab war helping to unite the Israeli guerilla forces into the formal defence forces. He resigned from his position in 1954. A year later, he took up the position of Defence Minister following the resignation of the office holder. When elections were held in 1955, he again became the Prime Minister and served until 1963 when he stepped down. In 1970, he retired from political life. He died in 1973, aged 87.

Levi Eshkol

Levi Eshkol was born in October 1895 and died in February 1969 while in office as the Prime Minister. He was the first PM to die in office. He financed various outposts and was also accused of funding the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to fight the Egyptian government. Upon the founding of the state, he was appointed the Director General of the Ministry of Defense and served for one year from 1950 to 1951. Having been elected to the Knesset in 1951, he served as Minister of Agriculture and Finance before replacing Ben Gurion as the PM in 1963. He is credited with the establishment of diplomatic relations with several countries including West Germany and the Soviet Union. He died in office of a heart attack in 1969.

Yitzhak Rabin

Yitzhak Rabin was born in March 1922 and died in November 1995 by assassination. In school, he studied agriculture and was an excellent student. Before joining politics, he served as a soldier for 27 years. During the 1967 war, he was the Chief of General Staff for the IDF and oversaw their victory. He was appointed the Prime Minister in 1974 following the resignation of Gold Meir. He resigned in 1977 following a financial scandal in which he was involved. He was elected again in 1992 and signed several important treaties towards peace with Palestine eventually winning a Nobel Peace Prize. He was assassinated by an extremist who was against the Oslo Accords.

Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu was the PM from 1996-99 and again from 2009 to date. He served distinguished military career having joined the army shortly after the 1967 war. Upon being discharged, he studied and worked in the US and returned to Israel in 1978. He served in various government positions as a minister before his election as the PM in 1996. Upon his defeat to Ehud Barak in 1999, he joined the private sector for some time. He came back and successfully contested the position in 2009.

Role of the Prime Ministers of Israel

Considering the volatile peace situation in the Middle East, they have been very instrumental in articulating the relationship between the Zionist state and the other countries around them especially Palestine. The coalition governments have proven critical for stability in the leadership of several PMs.

Prime Ministers Of Israel Since 1948

Prime Ministers of IsraelTerm(s) in Office
David Ben-Gurion
1948-1954; 1955-1963
Moshe Sharett
Levi Eshkol
Golda Meir
Yitzhak Rabin
1974-1977; 1992-1995
Menachem Begin
Yitzhak Shamir
1983-1984; 1986-1992
Shimon Peres
1984-1986; 1995-1996
Benjamin Netanyahu (Incumbent)
1996-1999; 2009-Present
Ehud Barak
Ariel Sharon
Ehud Olmert

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