Haredi MKs oppose ousting president

Both Shas and United Torah Judaism MKs are expected to oppose the ousting of President Moshe Katsav. MK Avraham Ravitz (UTJ) said Wednesday night that he would not join the initiative to collect the 90 MK votes needed to force Katsav out of office. "As long as the attorney-general has not indicted the president, he has no obligation to resign," said Ravitz, who said that the spiritual leaders of UTJ would not be involved in the decision. "Even before there was such a thing as liberalism, the Torah taught that a man is innocent until proven guilty," Ravitz continued. Knesset Finance Committee Chairman Rabbi Ya'acov Litzman (UTJ) refused to comment on the Katsav issue. A Shas spokesman said that Industry, Trade, and Labor Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) would meet with Rabbi Ovadia Yosef after morning prayers at the rabbi's home to determine Shas's position. In a related story, Rabbi Ratzon Arussi, a member of the Chief Rabbinate's Governing Council and Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Ono, said Wednesday night that according to halacha (Jewish Law) Katsav was not obligated to resign. Quoting a halachic decision written by Maimonides, Arussi, who was interviewed on the religious radio station Kol Chai, determined that Katsav was entitled to wait until he was convicted by a court of law. "In the case of a synagogue cantor who was plagued by vicious rumors, Maimonides said that the community could not dismiss the cantor," said Arussi, drawing a parallel between the cantor and the president. "Maimonides pointed out that this was particularly true if the cantor had known enemies who had an interest in seeing him removed." Arussi also said according to the halacha, if Katsav were punished privately and repented completely he would be expiated and be allowed to remain in his position as president. Arussi prefaced Maimonides's opinion with the following statement: "Halacha's approach to the Katsav case is radically different from a liberal democracy's."