Israeli committee revokes benefits for president who confessed to sex offenses

An Israeli parliamentary committee voted unanimously Monday to revoke the privileges of disgraced former president Moshe Katsav, who confessed to sex crimes in a plea bargain last month.

The decision announced by Parliament's Finance Committee in a statement Monday applies to any senior politician or judge convicted of crimes defined by the court as being particularly grave, but was made now because of Katsav. Israel's former ceremonial leader signed a plea bargain in June admitting he sexually harassed several female employees.

Katsav received a suspended prison sentence and resigned the presidency, but the deal allowed him to avoid charges of rape, infuriating many Israelis. The plea bargain is now being challenged by legal appeals.

A retired president is entitled to an office, secretarial services, a car and driver, a phone line and a hospitality allowance - all paid for by the state. The committee's decision took those benefits away from Katsav, but left him his state pension and health care.

Katsav was replaced as president by Israeli elder statesman and Nobel laureate Shimon Peres.