Former president Katsav offers to mentor Olmert as prisoner

Katsav, who began serving a 7-year prison sentence for rape in December 2011, reportedly empathizes with former PM, who began jail sentence on Monday.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
February 15, 2016 21:51
2 minute read.
Tel Aviv

Former Israeli president Moshe Katsav walks towards the entrance to Maasiyahu prison in Ramle, near Tel Aviv, December 7, 2011. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Former president Moshe Katsav told confidants on Monday he was interested in mentoring former prime minister Ehud Olmert on how to handle incarceration while they are both at Ma’asiyahu Prison in Ramle, Channel 2 reported.

Katsav began serving a seven-year prison sentence for rape in December 2011, which makes him eligible for release in December 2018. If a third of his sentence is removed for good behavior, he may go free in the summer, though there are questions surrounding whether or not he can be released so soon due to his not having expressed remorse.

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“He said he felt pain and suffering about what Olmert is going through,” a source close to Katsav who spoke to him Monday was quoted as saying.

Olmert’s confidants made no comment on Monday, and only three MKs spoke about the former prime minister entering prison.

“We as public representatives and leaders are obligated to maintain the law and have ethics and clean hands,” Opposition leader Isaac Herzog said. “This is a difficult day because the people don’t want to see their leaders go to prison. We must remember at all times that the pillar of fire that stands before us is justice and the rule of law. Personally, as someone who served as a minister in Olmert’s government, I feel pain, and I hope that the entire political system will learn its lesson, so such incidents will never occur again.”

Herzog’s Zionist Union colleague, MK Tzipi Livni, said Olmert’s entry into prison sends an important message to every Israeli politician.

“I worked with Olmert and made important security decisions with him,” she said. “His entering prison is an important day for democracy and the rule of law in Israel. This is part of the cleansing process that Israeli politics is going through.”



Zionist Union MK Stav Shaffir spoke about Olmert at the start of a Knesset forum on corruption she chaired that hosted Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.

“A prime minister of Israel entering prison today after he was convicted of crimes involving corruption is an embarrassment for the country,” Shaffir said. “But it is also a day that symbolizes the strength of our democracy and another step in the struggle against corruption. Many episodes of corruption could have been avoided had rules for public servants been clearer.”

Former MK Ya’acov Katz of the now defunct right-wing National Union party, said Olmert entering prison was sad for the Jewish people.

He said he preferred to remember Olmert for fund raising dinners in America they organized together that raised money for Beit El and not for his role in the evacuation of Gush Katif and the Amona outpost and his willingness to relinquish much of the West Bank with land swaps and to internationalize Jerusalem’s Old City.

“Olmert didn’t see a problem with evacuating 400,000 Jews just like he didn’t see a problem with accepting money from rich Jews in envelopes,” Katz said. “I understand why he fell so low, but I do not understand why before that, he rose so high.”

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