There is no single constitution of Israel, rather a collection of primary and secondary laws. Almost all of these laws were issued from 1950 until 1953. The primary group includes Law of Return (1950), Nationality Law (1952), State President Law (1952), Education Law (1953), 'Yad-va-Shem' Memorial Law (1953).
The secondary group of laws include Law and Administration Ordinance (1948), Knesset Election Law (1951), Law of Equal Rights for Women (1951), Judges Act (1953), National Service and National Insurance Acts (1953) and Basic Law for Knesset (1958).
Israel has three levels of political influence:
The president of Israel has little power, but serves as a symbolic and moral centre, and can in difficult times play an important role through his/her public statements.
The power of the prime minister is strengthened from May 1996 off, when Israel introduced a system of direct elections for prime minister. With the present system, the parliament, no longer has the right to remove a prime minister from office. However, an uncooperative parliament could leave the prime minister weak, as was the situation through 2000 for prime minister Ehud Barak. The American presidential system served to some extent as a pattern for the new system of Israel.
The Knesset is unicameral, and has 120 members. There are a large number of parties represented, and the lower limit for representation here is 1,5% in the elections. With the new political system of Israel, the Knesset has less power than earlier, but retains direct control over a number of issues as well as budgetary matters.
Israel is politically stable, but tensions are dividing the society. International support has weakened, due to brutal colonization of Palestinian territory. Israel has a large freedom of press, and with more than 25 newspapers the country has an open debate of central questions. Newspapers are issued in Hebrew (11), Arabic (4) and English, French, German, Hungarian, Romanian, Russian and Yiddish, all with 1 newspaper each. The largest newspapers are Yedioth Aharonoth with a circulation of about 300,000, M'ariv with about 200,000, Ha'aretz with about 70,000 and Al Quds in Arabic with 60,000
Israel has two court systems, civil and religious. Religious courts deal with central issues related to marriage and family.
The clear winner of the 2006 elections was Kadima, the new party of Ariel Sharon, who spent most of the campaign and the election day itself in a coma. Likewise, the losers were Likud and Shinui, but Kadima was largely formed by prominent Likud members.
Kadima won 22% of the votes, gaining 29 seats (of 120); Labour Party 15%, 19 seats (losing 2); Shas 9.5%, 12 seats (gaining 1); Likud 9%, 12 seats (losing 15); Yisrael Beytenu 9%, 11 seats (gaining 8); National Union 7.1%, 9 seats (losing 1); Gil 5.9%, 7 seats (new party); United Torah Jerusalem 4.7%, 6 seats (gaining 1); Meretz-Yachad 3.8%, 5 seats (losing 1); United Arab List 3%, 4 seats (gaining 2).
Shinui, which had 15 seats in the former Knesset were almost wiped out, receiving only 4,900 votes.
2009 January 21: Two anti-Israeli Arab political parties originally banned from participating in February elections, have regained permission from Israeli Supreme Court.