Constituent Assembly

Constituent Assembly
   The name applied to the first Knesset that was elected in January 1949. In March 1948, a temporary National Council of State assumed administrative responsibility over areas of Palestine under Jewish control. It was this body, under the leadership of David Ben-Gurion and serving as a provisional government, that proclaimed Israel's independence on 14 May 1948. It directed the war against the Arab states, levied taxes, and established governmental institutions and social service agencies. It functioned from 14 May 1948 until early 1949. On 18 November 1948, the provisional government passed the Constituent Assembly Elections Ordinance, calling for the election of a Constituent Assembly. Two months later, the transition ordinance was adopted, and the provisional government transferred its authority to the Constituent Assembly that was elected on 25 January 1949 and convened for the first time on 14 February. Three weeks later, it declared itself the first Knesset.
   On 16 February 1949, the Constituent Assembly enacted the Transition Law. For all intents and purposes, this law was a mini-constitution, containing chapters on the Knesset, the president, the government, and other institutions, but the assembly never formally debated a written constitution. It did table a draft constitution authored by Leo Kohn, a political adviser to Prime Minister Ben-Gurion, but it did not take up the issue again until it met as the first Knesset.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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