Netanyahu on Katsav verdict: A sad day for Israel

Livni decries "abuse, harassment" of rape victims; Barak, Beinisch, Peres emphasize that "all are equal before the law."

netanyahu stinkeye 311 (photo credit: Haim Tzach)
netanyahu stinkeye 311
(photo credit: Haim Tzach)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday said that the verdict in former president Moshe Katsav's trial was "a sad day for the State of Israel."
Speaking after Katsav was found guilty of rape, Netanyahu said that the Tel Aviv District Court had "sent two messages, loud and clear: That all men and women are equal under the law, and that women have full rights over their own bodies."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that "this is a difficult and sad day for the State of Israel, a day in which our former president was convicted of such serious crimes."
"However, this is also a day in which our justice system proved again that everyone is equal before the law," Barak added. "The justice system is a central source of strength for Israeli democracy."
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni reacted to the news, saying "the day in which a public representative is found guilty of rape is not a simple day for the State of Israel."
Speaking at a conference in Ariel, Livni said that the court's decision "sends a clear message in regards to public officials in Israel... and a message to victims - lately there's been a feeling of men against women - but there's not."
She went on to decry that victims are "abused, harassed, raped," and their "weaknesses exploited."
"The role of society is to support those who who have the courage to speak out, after years and years," referring to 'Aleph,' who made her complaint against Katsav years after the event.
The opposition leader said that the "message coming out of the court today will strengthen Israeli society," stressing that the ruling was "definitely not simple, and there's no joy for anyone involved. "
At a swearing-in ceremony for new judges, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch said that "today a ruling was made that cannot be ignored." The verdict "demonstrates the value of equality before the law," she added.
Speaking at the same ceremony, President Shimon Peres said:  "There are not two States of israel. There is only one State of Israel. There are not two justice systems in Israel. There is only one justice system. There are not two types of citizens in Israel. There is only one type of citizen, and all are equal before the law."
Justice Minister Yaacov Neeman said that "although it is a difficult case, the Torah's commandment of not to pervert the law...was fulfilled in Israel," Neeman said.
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss that the state should consider canceling the benefits that convicted rapist Moshe Katsav receives as a former president.
"I don't want to commit to what will happen with the benefits, but we need to consider them," Lindenstrauss said in reaction to Thursday's trial. "I'm proud that our justice system works fairly."