Shas MK leads effort to let Katsav stay in house arrest

Public Security Ministry rejects initiative by Nissim Ze’ev that Katsav could serve sentence under house arrest.

Katsav support demonstration, Knesset_311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Katsav support demonstration, Knesset_311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Shas MKs are set to lead a discussion in the Knesset on Tuesday about allowing former president and convicted rapist Moshe Katsav to serve the beginning of his prison sentence under house arrest, despite the Knesset Presidency’s refusal to address the topic and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch’s rejecting the idea.
MK Nissim Ze’ev (Shas) asked last week that the Knesset Presidency authorize the topic for discussion in the Interior Affairs Committee.
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However, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin released a statement opposing the idea the same day. In addition, Public Security Ministry officials said that Aharonovitch would not allow for Katsav to serve his sentence under house arrest.
Ze’ev pointed out that his proposal was only to keep Katsav in his Kiryat Malachi home until the final appeal of his trial, scheduled for January 8. He added that he felt Aharonovitch had responded negatively because he’d misunderstood, thinking Ze’ev meant to keep the former president under house arrest for his entire sevenyear sentence.
“If there’s a one in 1,000 chance that a former president won’t be put in prison, we should take it,” Ze’ev told The Jerusalem Post, explaining the reason for his proposal.
On Monday, before the Knesset Presidency could officially discuss the matter, Interior Affairs Committee chairman Amnon Cohen (Shas) put the conditions of Katsav’s imprisonment on the committee’s agenda.
Therefore, Rivlin refused to have the Knesset Presidency, which consists of the speaker and his deputies, vote on authorizing the topic for the committee.
The Knesset speaker said Ze’ev’s request for authorization was not procedural, but a way to get what would appear to be public approval for his initiative.
“Since the public security minister already announced his opposition to the idea, and since it will be brought to a discussion in the committee tomorrow anyway, there is no reason for the Knesset Presidency to give its opinion on the matter,” Rivlin stated.
Meanwhile, Ze’ev said he understood the Knesset Presidency’s statement to be a matter of procedure, because the committee “doesn’t need authorization” to discuss the issue.
At the end of the discussion on Tuesday, the committee will vote on whether to recommend the initiative to the Public Security Ministry.
“I think it’s possible [to put Katsav under house arrest], because his house is surrounded by walls and the Shin Bet protected his house in the past,” the Shas MK explained. “There is even a security booth outside, where a prison guard can sit.”
He added, “I’m not saying to set him free; we’re still taking away his freedom. I think there is no reason not to adopt this idea for a short amount of time.”
The MK also pointed out that Tuesday’s discussion would be a general one on the conditions planned for Katsav in prison.
“He’s going to be there for a long time – his conditions ought to be discussed,” Ze’ev said.