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Biography of Moshe Katzav

















Moshe Katsav - Biography


Moshe Katsav (or Katzav, Hebrew: משה קצב ) was born December 5, 1945) in Yazd, Iran. His family moved to Tehran when he was an infant; in August 1951, they came on Aliya to Israel.  He graduated from the Ben-Shemen Agricultural School and studied in Beer Tuvia. He is married to Gila Katsav.

After completing army service, Katsav studied in the  Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was chairman of the Likud student organization there and graduated with a degree in Economics and History. He was first elected Mayor of Kiryat Malachi in 1969 when he was a 24-year old student, and was Israel's youngest mayor. He again was elected mayor of Kiryat Malachi in 1974.  Moshe Katsav was a  Knesset member since 1977. In 1977 to 1981, he was a member of the Knesset Committee on Interior Affairs and the Environment, and the Committee on Education and Culture. He also served as chairman of the Knesset Members' Lobby for Development Towns.  .

Subsequently, Katsav was Deputy Minister of Housing and Construction (1981-84), Minister of Labor and Social Affairs (1984-88), and Minister of Transport (1988-92). In the 13th Knesset, from 1992, Katsav headed the Likud faction and was a member of the Knesset House Committee and chairman of the Israel-China league of parliamentary friendship. In the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, he was Minister of Tourism, minister in charge of Israeli Arab affairs and Deputy Prime Minister from June 1996-July 1999. He was nominated for the position of President of Israel in 2000, running against Shimon Peres who was supposedly assured the election. Katsav defeated Peres to become the President of Israel on July 31, 2000, getting 63 votes to 57 for Peres  He is the first President of Israel to have been sworn in for a seven-year term as well as the first candidate of the right wing Likud party to be elected to the office, and the first to be born in a Middle Eastern country other than Israel.

Though Presidents remain largely aloof from Israeli politics and represent the nation as a whole, most presidents have expressed their views on matters they consider urgent. Katsav spoke out in favor of the failed 2002 cease-fire initiative between Israel and the Palestinians, that was spurned by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He refused to grant a pardon to Yigal Amir, the assassin of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

In 2001, Moshe Katsav asked  Jewish communities to form a new Sanhedrin to deal with modern halachic (Jewish Law) issues. The Sanhedrin was established in 2004.

On April 8, 2005 Katsav, sat near Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, also a native of Yazd, during the funeral of Pope John Paul II, because all world leaders present were arranged in alphabetical order by the name of their state. President Katsav would later claim that he shook Khatami's hand and spoke to him in Persian, though Khatami denied it. He also greeted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the first political contact between Iran and Israel since 1979.

In June of 2007 Moshe Katsav left office in disgrace, following allegations and criminal proceedings regarding sexual misconduct. In April of 2008, he announced he was breaking a plea bargain agreement, and faced indictments on charges of rape.

Ami Isseroff

See also: Presidents of Israel


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