The President's spokesperson, Hagit Cohen, said Wednesday morning that the outpouring of support for the President is unprecedented. "In my three years in this position as spokesperson, I have never seen such a deluge of expressions of support as now. The switchboard at the president's residence is collapsing from calls of solidarity, as is the fax machine."
Cohen further noted that the president's words entered the hearts of the public. "Many citizens particularly identify with President Katzav's criticism of the Israeli media," she noted.
In his speech, Katzav directly confronted Channel 2 Israel TV's leading, semi-private channel and its newscasters.
Obviously shaken by Katzav's offensive, media anchors made no attempt to feign objectivity, as they launched their counter attack. For close to an hour on prime time TV, the media had been under attack, and they had no way of cutting off the President, ganging up on him or censoring him as is custom on talk shows or pre-recorded reports.
The President, who was in control on his home turf at the official President's Residence, successfully managed to shut up an attempt by Channel 2's lead anchor Sukenik to interrupt his speech. In a dramatic verbal clash, Katzav silenced Sukenik's outbreak and when Sukenik continued interrupting, a member of the President's staff wrestled with the Channel 2 crew over control of their microphone.
Channel 1 TV's lead anchor Geula Even expressed indignation in a prime time panel featuring ultra-leftists Talia Sasson, formerly a top official in the State Prosecution, and MK Zehava Galon (Meretz). Geula Even chastised the President for "terrible incitement against the media" and "talking above the heads of the media for an entire hour and bypassing the journalists and Sukenik."
Geula Even asked Yossi Bar Muha, head of the Israel Journalists Union, if the president hadn't "lynched the media", and expressed shock by Katzav's hints that some of Israel's media members were less successful in maintaining their family life than his "37-year successful marriage." Bar Muha said Katzav was a liar, and declared that he knew for a fact that Katzav was guilty of the sexual charges against him.
The main editorial in the ultra-leftist Haaretz news service calls for the forced removal of the president Thursday morning. Ynet, Israel's most popular Hebrew news site, features a commentary quoting anonymous sources saying the president's speech was "riddled with untruth" and an opinion piece entitled "The Protocols of Moshe" by Guy Banyuvich. "In a horror show presented in broken Hebrew," wrote Banyuvich, "the President laid a row of explosive devices along the avenues of law and justice in Israel and set them off one by one." Banyuvich went on to compare Katzav's speech to the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Baruch Gordon contributed to this report.
71 percent of Israelis think Katsav should resign
Poll finds most Israelis demand president resign immediately in light of his imminent indictment; public wants to see Vice Premier Peres replacing Katsav
Ynet Published: 01.25.07, 08:25
A majority of Israelis think President Moshe Katsav must resign his post and not settle for a temporary suspension from office. A poll performed by Yedioth Ahronoth and the Dahaf Institute Wednesday revealed that 71 percent of respondents demand the president resign immediately.
Ynet readers say Katsav must resign / Ynet
Eighty-nine percent say Katsav should immediately leave President's Residence following decision to indict him
The Dahaf poll, which was conducted among 516 participants (with a 4.4. percent margin of error), also focused on the question of the president's successor, and showed that 45 percent of the public prefer to see Vice Premier Shimon Peres elected to the top position.
President indicted full coverage
Peres' associates said Wednesday that the vice premier plans to run 'no matter what," namely regardless of the type of vote and even if the race is to be decided by a secret ballot.
Kadima members confirmed that the Prime Minister's Office decided to "throw all their weight behind Peres and do everything to help him win."
The first runner up in the race, according to the poll, is Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Israel's former chief rabbi, who enjoys a 22 percent approval rate.
Knesset Member Reuven Rivlin follows with a 15 percent approval rate. Although he is a member of the Likud, Rivlin is supported by MKs from across the political spectrum.
Collette Avital, the Labor Party's candidate for president, was supported by only eight percent of the poll's participants. Some 10 percent preferred not to pick any one of the candidates.
The full survey will be published in Yedioth Ahronoth Friday.