Nasi in Hebrew means "prince" or, now, president. The title Nasi is derived from the head of the Sanhedrin, the assembly of Jewish scholars that served as both a legislature and supreme court until the fifth century. Initially, the president was elected by a simple majority of the Knesset for a five-year term and could be elected for no more than two consecutive terms. Pursuant to a constitutional amendment adopted during the tenure of Ezer Weiz-man, Israel's president, while still elected by a simple majority of the Knesset, now serves for one seven-year term. The president is head of state and has powers that are essentially representative in character. In the sphere of foreign policy, these functions include signing instruments that relate to treaties ratified by the Knesset, appointing diplomatic and consular representatives, receiving foreign diplomatic representatives, and issuing consular exequaturs (official written accreditations). In the domestic sphere, the president has the power to grant pardons and reprieves and to commute sentences.
   Subsequent to nomination by the appropriate body, the head of state appoints civil judges, dayanim (judges of the Jewish religious courts), kadis (judges of Muslim religious courts), the state comptroller, the president of the Magen David Adom Association, and the governor of the Bank of Israel as well as other officials as determined by law. The president signs all laws passed by the Knesset, with the exception of those relating to presidential powers, and all documents to which the state seal is affixed. Official documents signed by the president require the countersignature of the prime minister or other duly authorized minister, with the exception of those where another procedure is laid down, as in the case of judges.
   The president's powers and functions relating to the formation of the government fall into a different category. After elections, or the resignation or death of the prime minister, the president consults with representatives of the parties in the Knesset and selects a member of the Knesset to form a government. This responsibility was particularly germane in the aftermath of the close elections of 1984 and 1988. The president receives the resignation of the government.
   Another aspect of the presidential role that could have potential political significance in the future is the office's public position and prestige potential — the president makes visits throughout the country, delivers speeches, and formally opens the first session of each Knesset. Though the president's legal authority is largely ceremonial in nature, the president's power to speak out on social and political issues can have a significant impact on public opinion. Since statehood, Israel has had eight presidents: Chaim Weizmann (1948-52), Yitzhak Ben Zvi (1952-63), Shneur Zalman Shazar (1963-73), Ephraim Katzir (1973-78), Yitzhak Navon (1978-83), Chaim Herzog (1983-93), Ezer Weizman (1993-2000), Moshe Katzav (2000-2007), Dalia Itzik (2007, interim), and Shimon Peres (since July 2007).
   See also Basic Law: the <

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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