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Israeli parliament considers action against president

Israeli parliament considers action against president

Israel's parliament was considering yesterday whether to suspend or impeach Israeli President Moshe Katsav, who is facing rape charges, after the embattled leader, shaking with fury, rebuffed the accusations as "poisonous, horrible lies," part of a broad conspiracy against him.
On Wednesday Katsav asked the parliament to temporarily suspend him from office while he fought to clear his name. But momentum was building for lawmakers to open unprecedented impeachment proceedings against the president, and top officials, including the premier, beseeched Katsav to stop clinging to office and allow the nation to heal.
"Under these circumstances, there is no doubt in my mind that the president cannot continue to fulfill his position and he must leave the president's residence," Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said.
A parliamentary committee was due to convene yesterday to discuss Katsav's request for a temporary leave.
Polls published in the country's two mass-circulation dailies yesterday morning showed most Israelis demanding that Katsav quit now.
A poll of 516 people by the Dahaf institute for Yediot Ahronot showed 71 percent of respondents saying he should resign at once, while 29 percent said he need not quit right now.The margin of error was 4.4 percentage points.
Maariv newspaper ran a survey of 400 people by pollsters Teleseker, which said 66.7 percent of those questioned thought Katsav should step down, while 20.9 percent did not. A further 2.5 percent said they didn't know. The paper did not provide a margin of error for the poll.
Resignation or impeachment would deprive Katsav of his presidential immunity. The 61-year-old Katsav's seven-year term is to end this summer. If he leaves office early, parliamentary speaker Dalia Itzik will become acting president until the parliament chooses a replacement.