Calls Heard in Knesset to Deny Katsav Perks

A bid to strip former president Moshe Katsav of his lifetime rights to a residence, car and staff, at an annual cost to the state of about NIS 1 million, is gaining momentum among members of the Knesset Finance Committee.

Some MKs are calling for waiting on the judicial dust to settle before taking any concrete steps, and no one is suggesting that Katsav's monthly pension of NIS 46,278 be touched. MK Orit Noked (Labor) is expected to raise the issue for discussion in committee today.

Committee Chairman MK Stas Misezhnikov (Yisrael Beiteinu) yesterday asked the committee's counsel, attorney Sagit Afik, to submit a legal opinion in writing on the body's authority to decide on the matter.

The Knesset's legal adviser, attorney Nurit Elstein, has meanwhile said it is the Knesset House Committee that is responsible for any changes to Katsav's retirement conditions, and that any changes should be made legislatively.

Haaretz has learned that Elstein rendered her opinion during internal debates held in the Knesset yesterday.

The chairman of the Knesset Ethics Committee, MK Haim Oron (Meretz) said he will propose in committee following the completion of all legal proceedings regarding Katsav the abrogation of all benefits with the exception of the former president's monthly state pension.

"The state allocation for former presidents derives from the president's special status and the creation of a relationship with the public as a public figure even after the end of his tenure. However, in his behavior Katsav destroyed every shred of distinction deriving from his position as president and continuing relationship with the public. The Knesset, which last year extended to Katsav lifetime retirement conditions, can use its authority to retract them. It must be remembered that there is no guaranteed right."