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Knesset Highlights: Fourteenth Knesset

(1996 - 1999)

The 14th Knesset was the first Knesset elected parallel with the direct election of the Prime Minister. Under to the system the institution of Prime Minister was supposed to become stronger vis-a-vis the Knesset. This did not happen. The new system, and the split voting for the Knesset and the Prime Minister, caused a significant fall in the power of the two major parties, and the appearance of several medium sized parties (6-10 mandates). In the course of the term of the 14th Knesset, party discipline in general, and parliamentary group discipline in particular, further weakened.

The 14th Knesset dealt extensively with progress in the peace making process with the Palestinians, and especially the Hebron Agreement, that was approved by the Knesset on January 16, 1997, by a majority of 87 in favor, 17 against and one abstention. The Knesset also approved the Wye River Memorandum (signed in October 1998 in Washington) within the framework of a vote of confidence in the Prime Minister on November 17, 1998, by a majority of 75 in favor, 19 against, and nine abstentions

In the course of the debate the Left-wing parties complained that the progress being made was too slow, while part of the Right expressed its concern over the willingness of the Prime Minister to make territorial concessions in Eretz Yisrael. The Knesset also dealt extensively with the Government's economic policy, the budgetary restraint of the Ministry of Finance on the one hand, and the Bank of Israel policy of high interest rates, on the other, and the slowdown in the economy, as well as various affairs connected with the Government's performance, such as the appointment of attorney Ronnie Bar'on as State Attorney, and the relations between religion and state.

In light of the difficulties in the operation of the Coalition, including difficulties in passing the State Budget for 1999, the Knesset passed on January 4, 1999, a law for the early dissolution of the Knesset. Early elections to the 15th Knesset were held on May 17, 1999. The 14th Knesset elected President Ezer Weizman for a second term of office, and Eliezer Goldberg as Israel's sixth State Comptroller.

Sources: The Knesset