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Knesset, the parliament of Israel, located to Jerusalem.
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Knesset, the parliament of Israel, located to Jerusalem. Photo: Chris Yunker.

Parties and groups in Knesset
As of the election January 28, 2003
Likud 38 +17
Labour Party 19 -6
Shinui Party 15 +9
Shas 11 -6
National Unity
(Ihud Leumi-Yisrael Beiteinu)
7 0
(National Religious Party)
6 +1
Meretz 6 -4
Yahadut Hatorah 5 0
One Nation 3 +1
Balad 3 +2
Hadash 3 0
Yisrael Ba'aliya 2 -2
Ra'am 2 +2
By orientation/ religion/ ethnic group
Jewish-Religious 22 -5
Right-wing 62 +22
Left-wing 28 -15
Arab 8 -2
From Hebrew, meaning 'assembly'. The parliament of Israel, located to Jerusalem.
The Knesset has 120 seats, and forms one chamber. The deputies to Knesset are elected by universal suffrage, for periods of 4 years, unless early elections are called for.
There is a threshold limit for parties to be represented at 1,5%, but beyond this, all seats are distributed proportionally according to number of votes.

1948 March 1: The People's Council is formed.
April 15: 37 members are appointed to the People's Council, coming from the National Council of the Jewish Community, Jewish Agency Executive, as well as other organizations. 13 members from the People's Council formed the People's Administration.
May 15: With the declaration of the independence of Israel, the People's Council is renamed to Provisional State Council. It was soon after projected that the assembly should have 120 members.
1958: Basic Law of Knesset states that the Knesset is sovereign and that it has unlimited powers in legislative affairs. It is the Knesset that elects the president of Israel, and then it is the president that shall call upon the leader of the largest opposition group to form the government.
1977 November: Egypt's president Anwar as-Sadat addresses the Knesset, being the first leader of an Arab state ever to do that.
1992: The threshold for parties elected for the Knesset is raised from 1% to 1,5%.
1996: With the general elections of this year the Knesset no longer exercises decisive power over who resides as prime minister of the country, since there is a direct prime minister election.

By Tore Kjeilen