Katsav decries removal of powers

Claims that Knesset debate is political attempt to bypass legal process.

katsav 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
katsav 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Knesset House Committee postponed until Tuesday a decision to expedite a bill that could force President Moshe Katsav to take a leave of absence against his will. If the initiative is approved, the committee will begin steps to force Katsav to resign. MK Yitzhak Galanti (Gil Pensioners Party), who initiated the proposal, agreed to postpone the vote at the request of MKs who wanted more time to garner support for the president. Beit Hanassi issued a statement Monday saying the committee was overstepping its authority by discussing the possible abrogation of Katsav's presidential powers or forcing him to take leave of absence until such time as he is either charged with or cleared of allegations of sexual assault and harassment. The statement claimed that the debate is a political attempt to bypass the legal process. "Neither the media nor the Knesset can take over the functions of the attorney-general and the legal authorities," it said. It added that in Katsav's opinion, there is no justification for filing charges against him, however if Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz decides that there are grounds for an indictment, he will suspend himself, and if he is actually charged, he will resign. Beit Hanassi reiterated, as it has done many times before that the police investigation has not yet concluded, and that Mazuz has not yet come to a final decision. Therefore there is no justification for the debate in the Knesset on how to limit the president's powers. Katsav, who has maintained throughout that he is a victim of malicious intrigue, is not deviating from this position and insists that sooner or later the truth will out. Nonetheless, he not only accepts but expresses the fact that everyone must respect the law and that no one is above the law, including those who are too hasty in their judgment.