Saturday, July 31, 2010

10 years ago: Moshe Katsav is elected President of Israel

On July 31, 2000 Moshe Katsav, a member of the opposition Likud Party who had once been the youngest mayor in Israel, was elected the country’s President by a vote of 63-57 on the second ballot in the Knesset. His opponent was former Prime Minister Shimon Peres, an ally of current Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Mr. Katsav, a native of Iran, became the first Israeli President to have been born in an Islamic country.

Reminiscent of a certain American president, Mr. Katsav's time in office was dogged by accusations of sexual harassment (from eight women) and rape (from one woman). After taking a leave of absence on January 25, 2007, Mr. Katsav resigned on July 1 of that year. Charges by five of his accusers were dismissed because of a statute of limitations; remaining charges resulted in a plea bargain that was highly unpopular in the court of public opinion. Mr. Katsav was confident that the prosecution didn't have enough evidence to convict him, and called off the plea bargain in April 2008,leaving it to the prosecutors whether to prepare a new indictment. In March 2009 Mr. Katsav was indicted on two counts of rape and other offenses. The proceedings are continuing.

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