- (1945- )Israel's eighth president (2000-2007). Born in Yazd, Iran, he arrived in Israel in 1951, graduated from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and served as mayor of Kiryat Malachi. He was first elected to the Knesset in 1977. He was minister of labor and social affairs in the Government of National Unity established in 1984 and became minister of transport in the government established in December 1988. He retained the latter position in the Yitzhak Shamir-led government established in June 1990. Katzav served as minister of tourism and deputy prime minister (and the cabinet minister responsible for liaising with Israel's Arab community) in the government formed after the 1996 Knesset election. Re-elected to the 15th Knesset in 1999, Katzav was elected Israel's eighth president on 31 July 2000, defeating veteran Labor member of the Knesset Shimon Peres by a 63-to-57 vote in the Knesset. On 24 January 2007, Katzav asked the Knesset for a leave of absence from the office of the presidency following an announcement by the attorney general that he would charge Katzav with rape and other offenses relating to at least 10 former female employees. During his official three-month leave of absence, beginning on 25 January 2007, Katzav's duties as president were handled on an interim basis by Knesset speaker Dalia Itzik. On 28 June 2007, Katzav's lawyers reached a controversial plea bargain settlement with Israel's attorney general, Menachem Mazuz. According to the deal, Katzav would plead guilty to several counts of sexual harassment and indecent acts and receive a suspended jail sentence and pay compensation to two of his victims. The more serious rape charges brought by a former employee were dropped, as well as Katzav's original charges of her blackmailing him. Katzav's resignation took effect on 1 July 2007. He was succeeded as president by veteran Israeli politician and statesman Shimon Peres. On 26 February 2007, Israel's supreme court rejected petitions from womens' groups calling for Katzav's plea bargin to be repealed.
Historical Dictionary of Israel. Bernard Reich David H. Goldberg. Edited by Jon Woronoff..
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