An outpouring of leading female politicians from all sides of the political spectrum welcomed the parole board decision on Wednesday not to grant an early release to former President Moshe Katzav, who is serving a seven-year sentence on two charges of rape and sexual crimes.
MK Shelly Yechimovich (Zionist Union), who was a witness for the prosecution in Katzav's trial after having accompanied several of the victims through the process, said the rejection of Katzav's request was an important message.
"This is a very important message for those harmed by Katzav and harmed by sexual assault in general, and it testifies that the (parole) committee identified the dramatic change in recent days, in which victims gather strength and act to bring justice to light," said Yechimovich.
"The message of equality before the law is also important on its own, and every thinking person knows that regular sexual criminals do not get privileges if they don't recognize the severity of their acts, and don't even receive rehabilitation."
Also weighing in was Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), who said, "the decision on Katzav was the right decision."
"A president of the state who was convicted of rape deserves to have his sentence meted out, he certainly is not entitled to relief in light of the fact that he never expressed remorse for his actions.
Zionist Union faction head MK Merav Michaeli for her part said, "a rapist who refuses to take responsibility for his actions does not deserve to have his sentence reduced. Any other decision by the committee would have been a betrayal of the confidence of the public and an abandonment of the victims of the former president."
"I have no joy over the misfortunes of Katzav, but with all due respect for his good behavior in jail, he doesn't deserve prizes," added Michaeli. "The committee writes that the prisoner Katzav still views himself as a victim, and that says it all. I am with the complainants, those who Katzav harmed sexually and throughout the trial, and I am happy that the parole committee also chose to stand by them."
MK Shuli Muallem, chair of the Jewish Home faction, said, "I welcome the committee decision not to release Moshe Katzav. A man who never expressed remorse for his severe actions, and without shame came down on the lives of those complaining against him, does not deserve any reduction of his sentence."
"The court determined his sentence, and there are no shortcuts. Beyond that, Moshe Katzav went into jail as a public figure, and this decision has a clear public statement – public figures are not above the law, and we must be precise with them to a hairsbreadth."