Katsav Offered Short-term Arrangement Instead of Azrieli Office, Fancy Car

The state will not rent offices for former president Moshe Katsav in Tel Aviv's prestigious Azrieli Towers, Accountant General Shuki Oren announced. Instead, Katsav will be allocated space in a government office in Tel Aviv.

Katsav will also not be getting the luxury Audi A6 car he asked for on Monday, Oren said.

Katsav resigned a year ago, amid accusations of sex crimes including rape.

Oren had recently sought Attorney General Menahem Mazuz's legal opinion on whether Katsav was eligible for the car, the office and aides. Mazuz said Katsav would be eligible for these benefits, which are given to former presidents, as long as he was not convicted of a crime of moral turpitude.

Oren therefore said Katsav would be provided with an office in a government building or a short-term rental that met "proper economic standards."

Oren instructed the President's Residence - which is responsible for arranging benefits for former presidents - that short-term arrangements be made for Katsav, so that they can be cancelled with little notice if necessary.

Katsav's requests aroused a storm of criticism in the Knesset. Knesset Ethics Committee chair MK Haim Oron has called for the Finance Committee to meet next week in order to revoke Katsav's perks until legal proceedings against him are finished.

The Knesset Finance Committee is in charge of retirement benefits for presidents and prime ministers. Oron argued that the annual budget earmarked for a former president, NIS 1.175 million, was intended for maintaining a relationship with the public. But in light of the accusations against Katsav, it is reasonable to assume that few members of the public will seek him out, he said.

The President's Residence said Katsav had inquired a few days ago as to his benefits, and the President's Residence legal counsel referred the query to Oren.