Q & A: Moshe Katsav's Future as President

If President Moshe Katsav fails to suspend himself, can he be forced to do so?No. The law states explicitly that only the president can start the process of suspending himself, by informing the Knesset House Committee that he is temporarily unable to perform his duties.

If Katsav does suspend himself, can his suspension be of unlimited duration?No. The law states that the president can initially declare himself temporarily incapacitated for no more than three months. This period can later be extended for another three months, but no longer. Moreover, the House Committee cannot approve a longer suspension than the president requests.

Can the Knesset oust the president altogether?Yes, if it concludes that he is unfit to serve due to behavior unbecoming his position. To oust the president, 20 MKs must submit a complaint to the House Committee, and the president, or his lawyer, must be allowed to respond. Then, three-fourths of the committee must approve his ouster. It then sends this decision on to the plenum, where it must be approved by at least 90 MKs in order to pass.

If Katsav suspends himself, who replaces him?The Knesset speaker.

What if the president decides to resign?A new president must be elected within 45 days. The Knesset speaker chooses the election date, after consulting with her deputies.

Who can run for president?Any 10 MKs can nominate a candidate. The nomination must be submitted to the Knesset speaker in writing, along with a letter from the candidate agreeing to run, at least 10 days before the election. No MK can nominate more than one candidate.

Does the Knesset elect the president in open or secret ballot?The law currently mandates a secret ballot, and has since the founding of the state. MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) has submitted a bill to make the balloting open, but it has not yet passed.