Israeli President Moshe Katsav pleaded guilty on Thursday to committing sexual crimes against women employees in a plea bargain that will keep him out of jail, Israel's Attorney General said. Under the deal, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz retreated from his stated intention to charge Katsav with rape.
Israel said on Tuesday it could target Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas and that a Gaza ground offensive was an option unless world pressure was brought on the Islamist group to halt rocket fire. Deputy Defence Minister Ephraim Sneh said: ''I'll put it like this -- there is no one who is in the circle of commanders in Hamas who is immune from a strike.''
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday threatened stronger Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip unless Hamas ceased its rocket attacks on southern Israel. ''If the measured steps we are taking, in the political and military sphere, do not bring about the desired calm, we will be forced to intensify our response,'' Olmert told his Cabinet.
A member of Ehud Olmert's Cabinet quit on Tuesday, opening the first crack in Israel's government after the Prime Minister vowed to ride out a scathing reprimand by an inquiry into last year's costly Lebanon war. Eitan Cabel told a news conference: ''I cannot sit in a government headed by Ehud Olmert.''
Israeli President Moshe Katsav informed Parliament on Wednesday he was taking a leave of absence after prosecutors announced they intended to charge him with rape and other sexual offences, Channel Two television said. Katsav's self-imposed suspension from his largely ceremonial duties stopped short of meeting mounting demands by legislators that he resign.
Israeli President Moshe Katsav faced growing pressure on Wednesday to resign after prosecutors announced they intended to charge him with rape and other sexual offences against female employees. Katsav, who has denied any wrongdoing, will hold a news conference later on Wednesday, his office said.
Prosecutors intend to charge Israeli President Moshe Katsav with rape and other crimes against female employees, the Justice Ministry said on Tuesday, in what would be an unprecedented indictment against an Israeli head of state. Katsav's post is largely ceremonial and the scandal is unlikely to have a direct impact on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Israel will take military action against Palestinian rocket-launching squads in the Gaza Strip despite a month-old ceasefire, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office said on Wednesday. ''A directive has been given to the defence establishment to take pinpoint action against the rocket-launching squads,'' Olmert's office said in a statement.