Representatives of former president Moshe Katsav are pressing members of the Knesset Finance Committee to approve money for office rent, salaries for aides, and a chauffeur, among other things. The bill for the months of August to December would be NIS 755,000, including the cost of a reinforced apartment in his home town of Kiryat Malachi.
Katsav would be entitled to the perks by virtue of being a former president. But the rub is that he admitted to sexual misconduct in a plea bargain arrangement, leading to calls that his benefits be revoked, or at least scaled back.
TheMarker reported in October that if convicted, Katsav would still be entitled to all benefits due ex-presidents. On August 16, the Finance Committee postponed discussing the issue of Katsav's benefits, though it did approve a NIS 1.2 million allocation to pay for his security costs.
Technically, Katsav is entitled to his ex-presidential perks because he has not been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, despite the plea bargain. But Finance Committee members have indicated an unease with allowing Katsav the full package of benefits.
Meanwhile, Katsav's associates have been piling on pressure. His brother, Lior Katsav, contacted the legal counsel of the Finance Committee, Sagit Afik, urging that the issue of Katsav's benefits be debated by the committee. Similar pleas from associates were made to Finance Committee chairman Stas Misezhnikov. Zion Amir, the lawyer representing Katsav, contacted the legal counsel of the Knesset, Nurit Elstein.
Unmoved by the pressure, Misezhnikov did not place the ex-president's benefits issue on the committee agenda yesterday. Most of the committee members, including Misezhnikov himself, do not want to approve the benefits before the High Court of Justice hears the various motions against the plea bargain.
Misezhnikov says that the panel members want more time to form firm opinions on the issue. He added that attendance at the session had been sparse, and an issue of such gravity deserved to be heard by a wider forum.
At the same time, some sources in the Knesset are worried that if stymied, Katsav might sue.
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