How the Government Works
Israel's government institutions and constitutional system have developed within a structure established formally through parliamentary legislation and government regulations and informally through practices and procedures that have become constitutional law. The Declaration of Independence called for a constitution to be adopted by an elected Constituent Assembly, but fundamental ideological differences over the purposes and content of the constitution blocked its adoption. The Constituent Assembly became the First Knesset and deferred the task of drafting a formal document. Instead, at its first session in 1949, the Knesset passed the Transition Law--also called the "small constitution"--which provided the foundations for government and defined the powers of and relations among the president, parliament, and the cabinet. Periodically, the Transition Law was amended to adjust to the requirements of the system.
The task of drafting a formal constitution was given to the Knesset Constitution, Legislation, and Judicial Committee. The committee constructed a series of articles, each of which became a fundamental Basic Law. By the 1970s the Knesset had adopted four Basic Laws that pertained to the Knesset, Israeli lands, the president, and the government. By 1995 a few other Basic Laws had also been adopted.
The Law and Administration Ordinance, enacted by the Provisional Council of State on May 19, 1948, defined the composition and function of the council and the provisional government. The ordinance declared that local government would continue and that all laws in force in Palestine on May 14, 1948--the final day of the mandate--would also continue unless they