President Moshe Katsav is due to hold a press conference on Wednesday where he is expected to announce he will temporarily step down, following Attorney General Menahem Mazuz’s recommendation to indict him on charges of rape and abuse of power.
Mazuz told Katsav he plans to indict the president on charges of sexual crimes against four women, including one case of rape, pending the outcome of a hearing where the attorney general will make the final decision. The president denies the charges.
The maximum sentence for rape is 16 years in prison.
Amidst demands across the political spectrum calling for Katsav’s resignation, Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik will assume the role of president until the Knesset elects a permanent replacement. The role of president is primarily ceremonial.
The Knesset is considering impeaching Katsav if he refuses to resign.
The Law and Justice Committee will convene on Wednesday to discuss Israel’s Basic Law concerning the president of the state. Ninety votes of 120 Knesset members are needed for impeachment.
Parliament member Zahava Gal-On (Meretz) has already collected the necessary 20 signatures to bring the impeachment motion to the Knesset floor. Katsav's lawyer, Zion Amir, told Israel Radio it was “too early to mourn the passing of the president,” and that Mazuz is only “considering” indicting the president.