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Moshe Katsav
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Perpetuated in bronze. The bust
Photo: Alex Kolomoisky
'Katsav should be stripped of all titles'
New bill aims to make disgraced president 'give back' various honorary titles awarded during his presidency. 'We mustn't glorify convicted felons,' says MK Shama

Former President Moshe Katsav is scheduled to begin his seven-year prison sentence on Wednesday, and a new legislative move aims to strip him of several honorary titles he was awarded during his presidency.

 

Katsav was convicted of two counts of rape, sexual harassment, indecent acts and obstruction of justice. The Israel Prison Service (IPS) ruled that he will serve his time in the religious cell block at Maasiyahu Prison.

 

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According to a Tuesday report in Yedioth Ahronoth, MK Carmel Shama (Likud), who chairs the Knesset's Economics Committee, is promoting a bill which would force the disgraced president to "give back" various honorary titles – such as the honorary Doctorate he was awarded by the Bar Ilan University.

 

The bill states that any public official convicted of criminal offences and moral turpitude would be ineligible to hold such titles. Institutions that awarded titles to anyone so convicted would be legally obligated to revoke them retroactively.

 

Shama's bill is meant to complement previous, pending legislation stating that public officials who were convicted of crimes will not be commemorated in public places.

 

Throughout the case, the Knesset slowly stripped Katsav of the various privileges awarded to all retired  presidents of Israel, such as an official State car, an office and a team of assistants.

 

Katsav, like all Israeli presidents before him, was also immortalized in bronze in the form of a bust placed in the "presidential avenue" in the grand garden at the Presidential Residence.

 

President Shimon Peres has decided not to remove the sculpture for the sake of historical accuracy: "History is full of good and bad things and there is no need to change history," he said in March.

 

According to Shama, Israel "must not glorify convicted felons."

 

Meanwhile, the IPS is gearing for Kastav's arrival: Guard deployment at the religious cell block Maasiyahu Prison was bolsters for security reasons. IPS cited concerns that the former president my try to harm himself, or become a target for other inmate, as the reason for the move.

 

Raanan Ben-Zur contributed to this report

 

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