Katsav undeterred on Knesset speech

Despite MKs' protests, president plans to attend winter session ceremony.

September 29, 2006 11:21
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Despite objections from MKs of all factions, President Moshe Katsav has said he intends to speak at the ceremony for the opening of the Knesset's winter session in two and a half weeks, Army Radio reported Friday morning. Following the president's initial announcement that he planned to preside over the ceremony, Katsav was heavily criticized for the decision due to the recent sexual harassment scandal that has surrounded the president for the past two months.

  • Analysis: Battle of the spin doctors
  • Report: Katsav had relations with Aleph MK Ruhama Avraham told Israel Radio Friday morning that she was aware of several MKs, from different parties, who planned to walk out of the ceremony if Katsav attended. She added that if the president did come, it would be an embarrassment and proof that the honor of the presidency was unimportant to him. Meanwhile, Meretz faction head MK Zehava Gal-On called for Katsav to be removed from his position before the ceremony takes place. In an interview with Army Radio, Gal-On said she had no expectations of Katsav and that the responsibility now rested on the Knesset members. "We have the power and the authority to impeach President Katsav. It is our obligation to make sure he has no part in any political event and that he does not sit in on the opening of the Knesset's winter session." The president's brother, Lior Katsav, said he believed his brother should fulfill his duties as usual, which included speaking at the ceremony. "If he were to ask me, I'd say, Mr. President, from a legal standpoint, there is nothing preventing you from going to the Knesset… You are obligated to continue to fulfill all your duties according to the law," he said. Aside from the MKs who planned to stage a walkout, another group of lawmakers were working on an initiative that would force Katsav to take extended vacation. Katsav's brother criticized the Knesset members, calling them "politicians who want to make headlines." The president's brother added that Katsav's family intended to sue Channel 10 for slander following a report the television station aired Thursday night, in which sources close to Katsav admitted that the president had had sexual relations with Aleph.

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