Opposition party to seek impeachment proceedings against Israeli president

The small opposition Meretz party said Wednesday it would seek parliamentary backing to launch impeachment proceedings against Israeli President Moshe Katsav, who faces indictment on charges of rape and abuse of power.

Katsav is expected to make a public statement later Wednesday and Israeli media speculate he might take a leave of absence while Attorney-General Meni Mazuz conducts a hearing ahead of a final decision whether to press charges.

Lawmaker Zehava Galon of Meretz said Katsav should have immediately resigned on Tuesday when Mazuz confirmed his intention to indict the president. She said she would start collecting the 20 lawmakers' signatures necessary to convene an impeachment debate in parliament, without waiting for Katsav's statement, reports AP.

"We shall not await the president's statement," she told Israel Radio. "We are starting the process of signing up members of parliament to bring about the impeachment of the president."

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