A Special Kind of Wickedness

The MKs are not equipped nor are they in a position to decide what happened behind closed doors: Without facts, it's impossible to impeach.

The Knesset House Committee began historic and unprecedented deliberations over the impeachment of the president of Israel. But Moshe Katsav can rest easy; the Knesset will not succeed in impeaching him. Not because it will not be able to rally a majority, and not because his impeachment is not appropriate, but because of a minor technicality: a 100 percent attendance requirement. All the members of the Knesset House Committee who are planning to vote in favor of impeachment (they should have a majority of 19 out of 25 committee members, not an easy task), must attend all the committee meetings - and this is a task they will surely fall short of fulfilling.

Of course yesterday, when deliberations were moved to the large lecture hall of the Knesset so that all the media people could fit and there was live television coverage, there was full attendance. But media interest will soon fade, the cameras will go away, and the MKs will move on to other business - including travel abroad - and attendance will barely reach 50 percent. As such, there will be no impeachment. But for now the MKs will continue torturing the president.

There is a special sort of wickedness in pushing for "impeachment now." After all, this is not a situation in which the judicial system is intimidated and therefore paralyzed. It is also not a situation in which the president continues to serve in his esteemed office, continues to arrive at his residence in Jerusalem and from there ignores us all. He has already stepped down on grounds of incapacity, and is at home in Kiryat Malakhi.

There is also no debate over whether the police carried out its duty in full, without fear or bias. It investigated all parties and did not hold back in its search for incriminating evidence. The attorney general also did not hesitate. Menachem Mazuz has already announced his intention to bring Katsav to trial, pending the conclusions of a hearing. It is clear from Mazuz's statements that he intends to bring charges against Katsav immediately after the hearing. At that point, the president will resign; he has already announced as much. Therefore, in two to three months, the incapacitated president will become the former president. Is that not fast enough?

The president is innocent until proven guilty. No court has convicted him yet, and for a conviction the court will have to be convinced of his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt - an obligation that does not exist in the kangaroo court of the Knesset House Committee. There is also no risk that the court will suddenly show pity: The last time a senior official (Haim Ramon) stood before a court, he was convicted over a kiss. Clearly it is possible to conclude that Katsav's situation is more serious, even without the fervor of Zahava Gal-On, Shelly Yachimovich and Ruhama Avraham.

In Ecclesiastes it says "be not righteous over much"; in other words, do not be overly severe in matters of justice, because you will be suspected of pretending, and in your pursuit of justice you may become self-righteous. But the Knesset House Committee is full of self-righteous people who want to hold a procedure that is sort of judicial, inappropriate as it may be to the situation at hand.

If Katsav had admitted to a little, the Knesset House Committee could argue that his behavior is inappropriate for a president, and then move on to impeach him. But this is not the case. The president denies everything. According to him, there was no sex, no rape, no harassment, no indecent acts, no innuendos. Nothing. In such a situation, any assumption that the court will in the end find Katsav guilty is irrelevant; only a court can decide this, on the basis of the evidence. The MKs are not equipped nor are they in a position to decide what happened behind closed doors: Without facts, it's impossible to impeach.

Also, the president cannot protect himself against the MKs. This would require presenting them with all the evidence - the witnesses, the depositions, all the legal arguments. Doing so would expose his entire defense, even before his hearing before the attorney general. This, of course, is illogical and also impossible from a legal point of view. The state prosecution officers will also not wish to appear before the Knesset House Committee and reveal their investigation materials. Any impeachment process is therefore void from the get-go.

If I had to go to trial, I would prefer that it would be an Iranian Revolutionary Court and not before the three aforementioned legislator-judges.