"Dedicated to exposing the lies and impeachable offenses of George W. Bush"

Israeli legislators begin impeachment hearings
dpa German Press Agency
Published: Wednesday February 14, 2007

Jerusalem- Israeli legislators began discussions Wednesday on whether to impeach President Moshe Katsav, who has taken leave of absence after the attorney-general said he could be charged with rape, sexual harassment, breech of trust and obstruction of justice. It is the first time in Israel's history the Knesset House Committee is debating whether to remove a sitting president.

Committee Chairwoman Reuma Avraham began the session by saying that it would be "inappropriate, unreasonable and unacceptable" for Katsav to remain president, the Jerusalem Post daily reported.

Katsav's lawyer Zion Amir, who attended the committee meeting, told the legislators they did not have all the evidence of the case at their disposal and could not make an accurate assessment of the president's alleged guilt.

"The investigation material is irrelevant for our discussion," lawmaker Zahava Gal-On shot back. "Katsav has acted in a manner not befitting a public figure."

Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz announced in January that he was contemplating filing charges against Katsav following a six- month-long investigation into allegations the president raped several female staffers. However he said he would grant Katsav a hearing - expected to take place in April - before a final decision is made.

Katsav took leave of absence from the presidency in late January, after Mazuz made his recommendation.

Under Israeli law, 19 of the 25 House Committee members have to support impeaching the president, before the initiative can be presented to the Knesset, where it needs the support of 90 of the 120 legislators to pass.

The House Committee discussion on impeachment is expected to last several weeks.

© 2006 - dpa German Press Agency

Original Text