|8th President of Israel|
1 August 2000 – 1 July 2007
|Prime Minister||Ehud Barak|
|Preceded by||Ezer Weizman|
|Succeeded by||Shimon Peres|
(1945-12-05) 5 December 1945 (age 76)
Yazd, Imperial State of Iran
Moshe Katsav (Hebrew: מֹשֶׁה קַצָּב; born 5 December 1945) is an Israeli former politician who was the eighth President of Israel from 2000 to 2007. He was also a leading Likud member of the Israeli Knesset and a minister in its cabinet. He was the second Mizrahi Jew to be elected to presidency.
The end of his presidency was marked by controversy, stemming from allegations of rape of one female subordinate and sexual harassment of others. Katsav resigned the presidency in 2007 as part of a plea bargain. Katsav later rejected the deal with prosecutors and vowed he would prove his innocence in court. In an unprecedented case, on 30 December 2010, Katsav was convicted of two counts of rape, obstruction of justice, and other charges. On 22 March 2011, in a landmark ruling, Katsav was sentenced to seven years in prison. Katsav appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court of Israel. On 10 November 2011, the Supreme Court affirmed Katsav's conviction and punishment.
On 7 December 2011, Katsav arrived at Maasiyahu Prison in Ramla to begin serving his seven-year sentence. He was released from prison, under restrictive conditions, on 21 December 2016, having served five years of his sentence.
Katsav was born Musa Qassab (Persian: موسى قصاب) in Yazd, Iran, to Persian Jewish parents, Shmuel and Gohar Qassab. His family moved to Tehran when he was a baby, and they emigrated to Israel in 1951. They lived in a tent camp for recent immigrants for several years before the area was developed into the city of Kiryat Malakhi.
After finishing high school, Katsav was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces in 1964, serving in the C4I Corps. He then studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and history in 1971. He married Gila Katsav in 1969. They have five children and two grandchildren.
Katsav joined the Likud Party, and was elected mayor of his home town of Kiryat Malakhi in 1969. He was elected to the Knesset in 1977.
Katsav was deputy Minister of Construction and Housing from 1981 to 1983 and Minister of Labor and Welfare from 1984 to 1988. He was Transportation Minister from 1988 to 1992 and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism from 1996 to 1999.
The public positions filled by Katsav include the following: Chairman of the Iranian Immigrants Organization; Chairman of the commission to determine higher education tuition; and Member of Ben-Gurion University Board of Trustees.
After serving as Deputy Prime Minister in Netanyahu's government, Katsav vied for the position of President, running as the opposition candidate against Shimon Peres. In a surprising upset, he defeated Peres to become the president of Israel, being elected by the Knesset on 31 July 2000. He took 63 votes (over 57 for Peres), two more than the required majority of 61, and was sworn in on 1 August. He was the first President of Israel to have been sworn in for a seven-year term, as well as the first Likud member to win the office. Katsav's victory was attributed in part to evidence that Peres planned to use the position to support the increasingly unpopular peace processes of the government of Ehud Barak.
The office of the Israeli President is largely ceremonial, with no executive powers save pardoning prisoners and commuting sentences. Nevertheless, each president emphasizes different aspects of the role during his tenure. In 2003, on a visit to Italy, he demanded that the Vatican restore treasures allegedly brought to Rome after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
On 8 April 2005, the alphabetic ordering of leaders during the funeral of Pope John Paul II resulted in Katsav sitting near Iranian President Mohammad Khatami who, like Katsav, was born in the Iranian province of Yazd. Katsav told the press that he shook Khatami's hand and spoke to him in Persian. Khatami later denied this.
Rape and sexual harassment case
In July 2006, Katsav complained to the Attorney General of Israel, Menachem Mazuz, that he was being blackmailed by a female employee. The investigation quickly turned against Katsav as the employee, referred to as A. (later identified as Orly Revivo), alleged sexual offences. A, who worked with Katsav when he was Minister of Tourism, claimed that Katsav raped her twice and sexually harassed her in various other ways. Katsav was accused of raping and sexually harassing up to ten women. Police raided his house and seized computers and documents on 22 August. There were calls for him to resign or suspend himself from the presidency. Katsav was questioned under caution on 23 August.
On 7 September, receiving complaints from at least four different women (according to IBA's correspondent for police affairs), the Israel Police determined that they had enough evidence for an indictment. Katsav did not attend the ceremony swearing-in Dorit Beinisch as President of the Israeli Supreme Court. On 13 September, the Knesset House Committee approved Katsav's request for leave of absence. The ceremony, normally held at the president's house, was moved to the Knesset.
Police said that seven women had testified against Katsav and the allegations included "breach of trust, fraud, and involvement in illegal wiretapping." On 18 September, Attorney-General Mazuz stated that the likelihood of Katsav being the victim of a plot was "fairly slim." By 21 September, the number of complaints rose to eight.
On 15 October 2006, police said the complaints of five of the women would not be pursued because the statute of limitations had run out. On 29 October, Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz advised Katsav to step down. While continuing to deny the allegations, he said he would resign if indicted.
Suspension and resignation
On 23 January 2007, Attorney-General Mazuz announced that he would consider charging Katsav with rape, sexual harassment, breach of trust, obstruction of justice, harassment of a witness and fraud. The president is immune from prosecution while in office, and could only be tried after the end of his term in August 2007 or after his resignation. The final decision on indictment would be made after a hearing where Katsav could present his case.
On 24 January 2007, Katsav held a press conference at which he accused journalists of persecuting him and judging him before all the evidence was in. He claimed that the media were hostile to his presidency from the start. He accused Channel 2 of conducting a witch-hunt. Katsav declared his intention to suspend himself temporarily but refused to step down unless indicted. The speech drew shock and condemnation, from journalists, politicians, and legal figures. In a talk scheduled minutes after Katsav's speech, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called on him to resign from the presidency.
Katsav took a three-month leave of absence approved by the Knesset on 25 January. Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik assumed the office of president in the interim in a "caretaker" capacity.
On 7 March 2007, an attempt to impeach Katsav failed. In accordance with a plea bargain, Katsav resigned effective on 1 July 2007 (his seven-year term was scheduled to run out constitutionally on 15 July 2007).
In March 2009, Katsav's brother Lior said the decision to indict Katsav was tantamount to a "blood libel".
Plea bargaining and indictment
On 28 June 2007, Katsav's lawyers reached a plea bargain in which Katsav would plead guilty to several counts of sexual harassment and indecent acts and receive a suspended jail sentence. He would pay compensation to two of the victims. The rape charges brought by A. would be dropped, as well as Katsav's charges of blackmail. This led to a public outcry, in particular from women's rights organizations. Opinion polls showed that 70 percent of the public objected to the deal. A protest at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv drew a large crowd. The Attorney-General claimed the agreement would spare humiliation of the presidency. Katsav's attorneys said they accepted to avoid an arduous trial.
On 30 October 2007, the state prosecution told the High Court of Justice that it had changed its mind about the indictment on the basis of evidence from the two key complainants. The prosecution cited a meeting with Katsav's attorneys that highlighted contradictions in their testimony, including an affectionate letter from one of the complainants after the two rapes allegedly occurred. The move garnered harsh criticism from the complainants' attorneys. Katsav called off the plea bargain in April 2008. According to one of his lawyers, Avigdor Feldman, he believed the prosecution did not have enough evidence to convict him.
In March 2009, Katsav was formally indicted for rape and other sexual offenses in the Tel Aviv District Court. His trial took place between August 2009 and June 2010 before a panel of three judges, consisting of Presiding Judge George Karra and Justices Miriam Sokolov and Yehudit Shevach. Katsav's testimony began in January 2010. The prosecutors were Ronit Amiel and Nissim Merom, of the State Prosecutor's Office Central District Office. Katsav's defense team consisted of attorneys Zion Amir, Avigdor Feldman, and Avraham Lavi. The trial was held behind closed doors (as is customary in trials of sexual offenses) and a media ban was imposed on the details of the trial, witnesses and testimony. The ban was lifted in August 2010, when protocols of the trial were released.
In the absence of forensic evidence, prosecutors built their case almost entirely on witness testimony. According to legal experts, the similarities in the testimonies of the victims, who could not have known one another, would be instrumental in his conviction.
On 30 December 2010, the three judges unanimously found Katsav guilty of "rape, sexual harassment, committing an indecent act while using force, harassing a witness and obstruction of justice". Presiding Judge Karra read the verdict which stated that Katsav "engaged in a campaign of vilification against the plaintiffs." Katsav faced a maximum sentence of 49 years. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that it was "a sad day for Israel", but that the verdict shows that in Israel "all are equal before the law, and that every woman has exclusive rights to her body." The conviction was described as "landmark" and "unprecedented", and the story featured prominently in the international media. The sentencing phase began on 22 February 2011.
On 22 March 2011, Moshe Katsav was sentenced to seven years in prison and two years' probation for rape, indecent acts, sexual harassment and obstruction of justice, becoming the first former President of Israel to be sentenced to prison. In addition, he was ordered to pay one of the women compensation totaling 100,000 NIS and another a sum of 25,000 NIS. Katsav's lawyer Zion Amir told reporters that the sentence would be appealed to the Supreme Court of Israel.
In July 2011, it was cleared for publication that Katsav was under police investigation on suspicion of using private investigators to harass witnesses and a complainant. Police suspected that the investigators were trying to obtain new evidence to undermine their credibility. It was thought that Katsav hired the investigators after he was found guilty and before the Supreme Court appeal was filed. Katsav, his brothers Lior and Yoram, and his son Noam were questioned for an hour by National Fraud Investigations Unit officers on suspicion of witness harassment, tampering and invasion of privacy.
In May 2011, Supreme Court Justice Yoram Danziger granted Katsav's motion to delay his entrance to prison until the Supreme Court heard his appeal. Deliberations on the appeal began on 7 August 2011, and were conducted by a three-judge panel consisting of Justices Edna Arbel, Miriam Naor, and Salim Joubran. Katsav's attorney suggested that his client actually was sexually involved with one of the alleged victims, but that no rape occurred. He also suggested that the plaintiffs' testimonies were filled with contradictions. When deliberations resumed on 10 August, Katsav's attorney suggested that his client's actions did not constitute anything beyond "an ordinary hug". Deliberations on the appeal adjourned on 11 August. The court delivered its opinion on 10 November, unanimously upholding Katsav's conviction and sentence. The three-judge panel stated that they refrained from assessing the truth of the statements made by the accusers and otherwise rejected possibly exculpatory evidence. Justice Salim Joubran stated that Katsav "fell from the loftiest heights to the deepest depths. Such a senior official should be a role model to his subordinates. Every woman has a right to her own body. A right to dignity. A right to freedom. No one has the liberty to take any of those from her". Katsav was given until 7 December to put his affairs in order.
Following the decision, Katsav's family turned to a number of politicians, asking that Katsav's home, already surrounded by stone walls put up by Shin Bet's Protective Security Department, be declared a "temporary prison", and that he be allowed to serve his sentence there. In a letter to Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich, Katsav's brother Lior wrote that while in prison, his brother could be exposed to convicts whose presidential pardon requests he had rejected, and claimed that he had knowledge of state secrets that could be compromised in prison. Aharonovich rejected that request, with sources close to him stating that prisoners were only permitted to serve their sentences at home in extremely rare cases.
Katsav arrived at Maasiyahu Prison in Ramla at 10:08 a.m. on 7 December 2011 to begin serving his sentence. Before departing for prison, he addressed journalists outside his home and maintained his innocence. Dozens of police officers were deployed to the prison to maintain order, and there was a large domestic and foreign media presence. Prison authorities determined that Katsav did not pose a suicide risk, and it was decided that the cameras in his cell would only be activated when his cellmate was absent.
Katsav was Israel Prison Service inmate #1418989. His cell was located in the prison's Torani cellblock, a special block for religious prisoners. Though considered less harsh than other blocs, inmates in the Torani bloc have no access to television or newspapers. Prisoners are woken at 4:30 a.m. for morning prayers, pray three times a day, and spend most of the day in two seminaries studying Torah and other sacred Jewish texts. Shlomo Benizri, another former politician who was in prison for corruption, was Katsav's cellmate until his 2012 release.
It was announced on 15 October 2012, that Israel's President Shimon Peres received a formal request to pardon Katsav. The request came from Katsav's wife, Gila.
The prison parole board rejected a request by Moshe Katsav for a conditional early release from prison on 6 April 2016. It is allowed by Israeli law to release a prisoner after serving two thirds of a term. The parole board decided that Katsav, who always maintained he is innocent and never expressed any regret for his actions and also refused to take part in rehabilitation programs, could continue to harass the victims and still posed a risk to women.
On 18 December 2016, the parole board granted Katsav early release, announcing that he had expressed regret for his actions before it, even though he had failed to do so publicly. The parole board delayed his release for a week to allow prosecutors to consider whether to appeal. On 21 December 2016, Katsav was released from prison after the State Attorney decided not to appeal the Parole Board's decision for early release.
Katsav served a total of 5 years and 15 days of his 7-year sentence. The Prisoner Rehabilitation Authority imposed parole restrictions to be followed for the remainder of his 7-year sentence. Under the terms of his parole, he was prohibited from making any statements to the media or leaving the country. He was required to attend rehabilitation and visit a psychologist once a week, attend daily Torah study sessions, and remain at his home under a curfew from 10 PM to 6 AM. He was also forbidden from discussing or defaming his victims or holding any position where women are his subordinates.
In August 2017, President Reuven Rivlin rejected an appeal from Katsav to cancel the conditions of his parole. A parole board rejected a request to lift his nighttime curfew in November 2017. In April 2018, the Lod District Court rejected an appeal to cancel his nighttime curfew.
- Iranian Jews in Israel
- Shaul Mofaz
- List of Israeli public officials convicted of crimes or misdemeanors
- Iran-Israel relations
- ^ "Moshe Katsav Former Israeli President Jailed For Rape". Allvoices.com. 22 March 2011. Archived from the original on 4 October 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
- ^ a b c "Israel ex-President Katsav begins jail term for rape". BBC. 7 December 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
- ^ a b c d e Friedman, Ron (31 December 2010). "Moshe Katsav convicted of rape, faces long jail term". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 31 December 2010.
- ^ a b c "Israeli ex-president guilty of rape: Judges say Moshe Katsav's testimony was "riddled with lies" before passing verdict in Tel Aviv". Al Jazeera. 30 December 2010. Retrieved 30 December 2010.
- ^ "Israel ex-President Moshe Katsav found guilty of rape". BBC. 30 December 2010. Retrieved 30 December 2010.
- ^ Hartman, Ben (31 December 2010). "Timeline: Immigrant, president, rapist". Jerusalem Post.
- ^ a b c d "Spotlight : Moshe Katsav". Free Online Library. Jordan Press & Publishing Co. 2003. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
- ^ Knesset – Moshe Katsav, Roles in the Government
- ^ East, Roger; Thomas, Richard (2003). "Israel". Profiles of People in Power: The World's Government Leaders (1st ed.). Psychology Press. pp. 247–251. ISBN 9781857431261.
- ^ "Israeli President, Moshe Katzav, asks Vatican to reveal list of Temple treasures and Judaica held by them". Templemountfaithful.org. Archived from the original on 10 December 2008. Retrieved 30 December 2010.
- ^ BBC News (9 April 2005). "Iran denies contact with Israel". Retrieved 26 August 2008.
- ^ "A-G orders Katsav investigation". The Jerusalem Post. 11 July 2006.
- ^ "Orly Revivo: The woman who dared complain about Israel's ex-President Katsav". Haaretz.
- ^ a b President Katsav of Israel to plead guilty to sex crimes but avoid jail International Herald Tribune, 28 June 2007
- ^ a b "Complainant begged Katsav: 'Stop, I don't want to' – Israel News, Ynetnews". Ynetnews. Ynetnews.com. 20 June 1995. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
- ^ Police question Katsav; evidence said 'dramatic' Haaretz, 23 August 2006 Archived 19 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine
- ^ Police question Israeli President over sex allegations The Times, 23 August 2006
- ^ Today in the news Archived 11 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine Israel Broadcasting Authority, 7 September 2006 (in Hebrew)
- ^ Alon, Gideon; Jonathan Lis; Mijal Grinberg (14 September 2006). "Katsav takes short leave of absence; probe turns to wire-tapping". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 23 January 2007. Retrieved 26 January 2007.
The Knesset House Committee on Wednesday approved by a 12–6 majority, with three abstentions, Katsav's request for the 16-hour leave, billed as "temporary incapacity," to enable Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik to replace him at Thursday's swearing-in ceremony of Justice Dorit Beinisch as Supreme Court president.
- ^ "Katsav allegations include wiretapping" The Jerusalem Post, 14 September 2006
- ^ "Mazuz says Katsav was not made victim of libel", Jerusalem Post, 18 September 2006
- ^ "Katzav's investigation is at completion stages" Archived 5 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Haaretz, 19 September 2006
- ^ "Eighth allegation of sexual assault filed against Katsav", Haaretz, 21 September 2006
- ^ "Rape Charge Advised Vs. Israel President", The Washington Post, 15 October 2006
- ^ "President must 'step down'". Sky News, 29 October 2006
- ^ "Israeli president to be charged with rape", NBC News, 23 January 2007
- ^ 'Comment: Katsav's rending battle cry'[dead link], Jerusalem Post, 25 January 2007
- ^ "Israeli law professors shocked by Katsav speech" Archived 19 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Malaysia Sun, 25 January 2007
- ^ Dalia Itzik becomes acting president Jerusalem Post, 25 January 2007
- ^ President Katsav escapes impeachment over likely rape charges Haaretz, 7 March 2007
- ^ Zarchin, Tomer (3 September 2009). "Justice Ministry: Criticism of Katsav indictment is groundless — Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News". News.haaretz.co.il. Retrieved 30 December 2010.
- ^ a b "Thousands flock to Tel Aviv square to demand Israel's president stand trial on rape charges". International Herald Tribune. 30 June 2007. Retrieved 1 July 2007.
- ^ Women's Coalition: Our intifada has begun Ynet, 30 June 2007
- ^ Dan Izenberg (31 October 2007). "Evidence changed our minds about Katsav". The Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on 8 July 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2008.
- ^ "Katsav to fight sex crime charges". BBC News. 8 April 2008. Retrieved 13 May 2010.
- ^ "Ex-Israeli leader Katsav indicted for rape". UPI.com. 19 March 2009. Retrieved 30 December 2010.
- ^ Former Israeli president goes on trial on rape charges irishtimes.com, 1 September 2009
- ^ Unjustified blackout Haaretz, 12 January 2010
- ^ "The Prosecutors' Sleepless Nights". Haaretz.
- ^ "Katsav rape trial protocols released". The Jerusalem Post. 17 August 2010.
- ^ "Former Israeli president Moshe Katsav begins jail term for rape". The Guardian. 7 December 2011.
- ^ "Former Israeli president guilty of rape". The Sydney Morning Herald. 31 December 2010. Retrieved 31 December 2010.
- ^ Zarchin, Tomer (14 November 2010). "Former President Katsav charged with two counts of rape, sexual abuse. Haaretz, 30.12.2919". Haaretz. Israel. Retrieved 30 December 2010.
- ^ Sobelman, Batsheva; Sanders, Edmund (31 December 2010). "Former Israeli President Moshe Katsav convicted of rape". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 31 December 2010.
- ^ "How the world sees the Katsav verdict". The Jerusalem Post. 30 December 2010. Retrieved 30 December 2010.
- ^ "Sentencing Phase of Katzav Trial Begins – Latest News Briefs". Israel National News. 22 February 2011. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
- ^ Ynet News: Moshe Katsav sentenced to 7 years in prison ynetnews.com, 22 March 2011
- ^ "'We will appeal; state's conduct merits probe'". Jerusalem Post. 22 March 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
Amir said that he would appeal the sentence to the Supreme Court.
- ^ Senyor, Eli (20 June 1995). "Katsav suspected of witness harassment – Israel News, Ynetnews". Ynetnews. Ynetnews.com. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
- ^ Glickman, Aviad (20 June 1995). "Court: Katsav's rape conviction stands – Israel News, Ynetnews". Ynetnews. Ynetnews.com. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
- ^ "Ex-Israeli president to serve 7 years for rape". CBS News. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 10 November 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- ^ Efraim, Omri (20 June 1995). "Minister denies Katsav's home confinement request – Israel News, Ynetnews". Ynetnews. Ynetnews.com. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
- ^ Lappin, Yaakov (12 August 2011). "Katsav entering prison: 'You're burying a man alive'". Jpost.com. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
- ^ Yagna, Yanir (8 December 2011). "Katsav – unrepentant as ever – begins prison term". Haaretz.com. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
- ^ Ben-Zur, Raanan (20 June 1995). "IPS: Katsav not on suicide watch – Israel News, Ynetnews". Ynetnews. Ynetnews.com. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
- ^ "FROM PRISON, FORMER ISRAELI PRESIDENT SEEKS PARDON". AP. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
- ^ Isabel Kershner (6 April 2016). "Moshe Katsav, Jailed Ex-President of Israel, Loses Bid for Early Release". New York Times. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
- ^ "Parole board grants Katsav early release from 7 year rape prison sentence".
- ^ "Ex-president Moshe Katsav goes free after 5 years in jail for rape". The Times of Israel.
- ^ Azulay, Moran (13 August 2017). "Rivlin rejects request to cancel Katsav release terms". Ynetnews.
- ^ Morag, Gilad (28 November 2017). "Parole board rejects Katsav request to lift evening curfew". Ynetnews.
- ^ Morag, Gilad (18 April 2018). "Court rejects Katsav's appeal to ease release restrictions". Ynetnews.
- Media related to Moshe Katsav at Wikimedia Commons
- Moshe Katsav on the Knesset website
- BBC Profile
|Preceded by |
| Minister of Labor and Social Welfare |
|Preceded by |
| Minister of Transportation |
|Preceded by |
| Minister of Tourism |
|Preceded by |
| President of Israel |
Provisional State Council
- David Ben-Gurion (1948)
- Chaim Weizmann (1948–49)
- Chaim Weizmann (1949–52)
- Yosef Sprinzak (1952)
- Yitzhak Ben-Zvi (1952–63)
- Kadish Luz (1963)
- Zalman Shazar (1963–73)
- Ephraim Katzir (1973–78)
- Yitzhak Navon (1978–83)
- Chaim Herzog (1983–93)
- Ezer Weizman (1993–2000)
- Avraham Burg (2000)
- Moshe Katsav (2000–07)
- Dalia Itzik (2007)
- Shimon Peres (2007–14)
- Reuven Rivlin (2014–21)
- Isaac Herzog (2021–present)