Israel's paper currency currently features historical figures who are not among Israel's most famous. Zalman Shazar, Israel's third president, is featured on the red, 200-shekel bill; he will be replaced by Yitzchak Rabin, the prime minister who was killed in 1995. The beige 100-shekel note currently features Yitzchak Ben-Tzvi, Israel's second president; he will give way to Menachem Begin, who served as Israel's sixth prime minister from 1977 until 1983.
The purple 50-shekel note is currently adorned with Nobel Literature Prize winner Shai Agnon; Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, will take his place. And the green, 20-shekel bill, which bears the image of Moshe Sharett, Israel's second prime minister, will soon be associated with Binyamin Ze'ev Herzl, considered the visionary of the State of Israel.
Herzl was on a bill once before - the famous 100-lira note, which has long been out of circulation. An item that cost 500 lirot, for instance, was popularly said to be worth "five Herzls."
Most of the new bills will be printed on special polymer plastic paper, as is already the case with the 20-shekel note. Some 300 million bills are currently in circulation in Israel.
The revolutionary decision to change the face of the bills was approved on Wednesday by Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Bank of Israel Governor Prof. Stanley Fischer.
In general, Israel's bills are replaced every 12 years. This is the first time, however, that such an extensive design change will be made on all of them at the same time.