Although the State of Israel does not have a written constitution, the Declaration of Establishment (1948), the basic laws of the Knesset (parliament) and the Israeli Law of Return fill some of a constitutionís functions. Israel is a parliamentary democracy consisting of legislative, executive and judicial branches, whose key institutions are the Presidency, the Knesset, the Government (Cabinet of Ministers) and the Judiciary. The President is elected every five years by the Knesset and is the Head of State; the Presidency symbolises the nationís unity, above and beyond party politics. Legislative power is vested in the unicameral Knesset (meaning ĎAssemblyí in Hebrew) which comprises 120 members and is elected at least every four years by universal suffrage. Executive authority is vested in the Government, which comprises an elected Prime Minister and not more than 18 and not less than eight Ministers appointed by the Prime Minister. Since 1948 all governments have been coalitions because no single party has been able to gain a majority. The Judiciary is guaranteed independence by law.
The State of Israel has three tiers of local government:- Municipalities, which provide the framework for urban centres of over 20,000 people; Local Councils, which manage towns with populations of between 2,000 and 20,000 people; and Regional Councils, which are responsible for several villages grouped within a certain radius. At the time of writing there are 61 Municipalities, 150 Local Councils and 53 Regional Councils. All these bodies are united on a voluntary basis in a central body, the Union of Local Authorities, which represents them before the Government, monitors relevant legislation in the Knesset and provides guidance on issues such as work agreements and legal affairs.
Jerusalem was proclaimed as the nationís capital in 1950 and all principal government ministries are based here. However, most countries do not recognise this and maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.