Thursday's decision by the Knesset House Committee to accept President Katsav's request for a suspension rather than pressing for his resignation is an embarrassment and gives a prize to someone who is accused of rape.
The job of the committee members was to impeach the president. In all the European press they are writing, "A serial sex offender is holed up in the President's Residence in Israel."
It's clear that the president should enjoy the right of being presumed innocent until proven guilty. But that is only as relates to the criminal charges. The Knesset's job is to act in terms of the norms and standards of society. That's why the president should have had to leave Beit Hanassi and fight to be proven innocent. He has the full right to do that, but he no longer has the right to continue as president.
Those who approved the temporary suspension are allowing him to cynically exploit his immunity and to avoid the filing of an indictment against him at this time, preventing the police from arresting him as is generally done with people accused of such serious crimes, and essentially allowing the president to continue to harass the witnesses, undermine the investigation and to verbally attack everyone.
The fact that the Knesset allowed the president to hang on to his post shames both the presidency and the Knesset. It's an embarrassment. The MKs who supported temporary suspension demonstrated moral cowardice and failed in carrying out their responsibility to rebuild the public trust that has been damaged by this incident.
The president, the No. 1 citizen, who symbolizes the country, must be held to the highest standards. He, above all public figures, must demonstrate absolute integrity.
After his vicious speech on Wednesday, in which he attacked so many people, the MKs were duty bound to remove the president and not make do with a temporary suspension. When MKs did not immediately move to follow a route to impeachment, they became full partners in the shaming of the presidency, the Knesset, and Israeli democracy.
The writer is a Meretz-Yahad MK.