The nasi (president) bears the ancient
title of the head of the Sanhedrin, the supreme legislative and judicial
body of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel in ancient times. The
president is the head of state, with the presidency symbolizing the
nation's unity, above and beyond party politics.
The president is elected by a simple majority of the Knesset from
among candidates nominated on the basis of their personal stature and
lifelong contribution to the state. Revised legislation (1998) provides
for the election of the president for a single term of seven years.
which are mostly ceremonial and formal, are defined by law. They
include opening the first session of a new Knesset; directing a member
of Knesset to form a new government; accepting the credentials of
foreign envoys; signing treaties and laws adopted by the Knesset;
appointing, on recommendation of appropriate bodies, the heads of
Israel’s diplomatic missions abroad, judges, and the governor of the
Bank of Israel; and pardoning prisoners, on advice of the minister of
justice. In addition, the president performs public functions and
informal tasks such as hearing citizens' appeals, lending prestige to
community organizations and strengthening campaigns to improve the
quality of life in the society at large.
Shimon Peres, President of the State of Israel
(Photo: GPO / A. Ohayon)