The prime minister of Israel is the head of government of Israel and the most powerful figure in Israeli politics. Although the President of Israel is the country's head of state, the President's powers are largely ceremonial; the Prime Minister holds most of the real power. The official residence of the Prime Minister, Beit Aghion is in Jerusalem. The current Prime Minister is Benjamin Netanyahuof Likud, the ninth person to hold the position (excluding caretakers).
Following an election, the President nominates a member of the Knesset to become Prime Minister after asking party leaders whom they support for the position. The nominee then presents a government platform and must receive a vote of confidence in order to become Prime Minister. In practice, the Prime Minister is usually the leader of the largest party in the governing coalition. Between 1996 and 2001, the Prime Minister was directly elected, separately from the Knesset.
If the prime minister dies in office, the cabinet chooses an interim prime minister, to run the government until a new government is placed in power. Yigal Allon served as interim prime minister following Levi Eshkol's death, as did Shimon Peres following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.
According to Israeli law, if a prime minister is temporarily incapacitated rather than dies (as was the case following Ariel Sharon's stroke in early 2006), power is transferred to the acting prime minister, until the prime minister recovers (Ehud Olmert took over from Sharon), for up to 100 days. If the prime minister is declared permanently incapacitated, or that period expires, the President of Israel oversees the process of assembling a new governing coalition, and in the meantime the acting prime minister or other incumbent minister is appointed by the cabinet to serve as interim prime minister.
In the case of Sharon, elections were already due to occur within 100 days of the beginning of his coma; thus, the post-election coalition-building process pre-empted the emergency provisions for the selection of a new prime minister. Nevertheless, Olmert was appointed interim prime minister on 16 April 2006, after the elections, just days before he had formed a government on 4 May 2006, to become the official prime minister.