The shame of the night when a man charged with rape slept at the presidential residence cannot be erased. Excuses cannot be made for the disgrace of the hours that went by without the State expunging a national symbol that went astray.
There is no reason to wait until Moshe Katsav decides to suspend himself, and the choice of temporary absence cannot remain in his hands. The stance, opinion and the decision of a man charged with rape is irrelevant.
The question is not what Katsav will decide. The question is where 120 Knesset members were at 4 PM Tuesday afternoon, and why didn't they, right there and then, decide to impeach a man who the attorney general decided to indict after such prolonged deliberations?
How is it that 90 Knesset members - the number required for impeachment – think that a man such as Katsav and the repulsive charges against him - can remain seated on the stately thrown for even a minute longer? Who are these people in the Knesset? Who are they representing if such an obvious, inevitable decision, understood by any normal person, is not obvious to them?
In a country where the chairman of the Knesset Committee calls upon the president to "weigh" the continuation of his term in office, as though it were a personal matter and not a blatantly public one, how can we slam the accused for seeking refuge at all costs?
And what should we say when Knesset member Colette Avital states that a person cannot be "forced" to suspend himself and "that he is mature enough," while at the same time seeing herself as a candidate for the presidential post? How can we criticize a man who is trying to delay the inevitable?
The impression made Tuesday was that our politicians are much quicker at deciding to embark on war then they are at impeaching one of their own.
It appears that a series of sexual offenses including rape is not enough for them to remove him from their midst. Thus, if the president does not resign, and Knesset members do not impeach him, he will remain in office until the end of his term, and until then an indictment against him cannot be served.
This would also be the case if he decides to declare that he is opting for a temporary suspension. It is shocking to think that despite all the above there was a solid bloc against his impeachment in the Knesset Committee Tuesday. In light of this, Knesset member Shelly Yacimovich's call for his immediate impeachment sounded like a voice crying out in the wilderness.
Katsav is now clinging on to the hearing as his lifebelt. His attorneys tried Tuesday to create the illusion that a hearing could drastically alter his status. This is hard to believe.
The materials presented by Katsav's attorneys at the hearing have already been presented to the attorney general. It is doubtful whether new evidence could reverse the situation. But not only Katsav will be clinging to the hearing in a bid to gain time; so will those who could benefit from postponing the presidential elections, including their supporters and parties.
And thus, once again we are doing what we are so good at: Turning a clear-cut criminal matter into a political and personal issue.