A committee of the Israeli parliament has agreed to President Moshe Katzav’s request for a three month period of absence. It comes after Israel’s attorney general issued an indictment against the president accusing him of several charges including rape and abuse of power.
Knesset chair, Dalia Itzik was named interim president while Katzav answers the charges. Some of the committee members said the move sent the wrong message and that the president should resign. Committee chairman Ruhana Avram said: “The committee is convening under sad circumstances. These are moments of shame.”
Demonstrators outside the President’s home called on Katzav to quit. Earlier Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert added his voice to those calling on the President to go. Katzav denies all the charges saying he is the victim of a media witch-hunt. Under Israeli law the president cannot be put on trial while in office.