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Katsav stays at home after rape allegations

Katsav stays at home after rape allegations
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Pressure is building on Israel’s president to quit after police recommended he be charged with rape. With several members of parliament threatening a boycott of parliament, which returned to the house today to open the winter session, Moshe Katsav decided to stay away, as he said, “to avoid being part of these theatrics”.

However many are saying it is time for the curtain to fall on Katsav. The veteran politician has been in the office six years, but if he is tried and found guilty, he could be heading for a 16-year prison sentence.

Some female parliamentarians want him to go for good; others want him to at least keep a low profile:

“I’m very glad that he saved himself and us the embarrasment and he is not coming to the Knesset today. I think that is a wise decision. Second of all I think that the president now, after the accusations filed by the police, should take a leave of absence”, said Kolet Avital.

The police’s file on Katsav has now gone to the public prosecutor’s office, which will decide if it will press charges.

Ever since the founding of Israel senior politiicians have been subject to allegations of sexual affairs, but none have ever been charged with a major sex crime.

The story has also bumped other major news off the front pages, such as the conclusions of the report into the recent incursion into Lebanon, and Prime Minister Olmert’s struggles to form a new coalition government.