Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called on President Moshe Katsav to resign, as charges of rape and abuse of power loomed Wednesday. Katsav asked parliament to temporarily remove him from office in an effort to blunt growing calls for his resignation.
''Under these circumstances, there is no doubt in my mind that the president cannot continue to fulfill his position and he must leave the president's residence,'' sai Olmert, himself under an unrelated criminal investigation.
At a stormy, emotional news conference at his official residence, Katsav blamed Israeli media for his plight, using terms like ''witch hunt,'' ''McCarthyism'' and ''persecution.'' He shouted at a local TV reporter, pounding on the podium and gesturing angrily during a rambling diatribe that lasted nearly an hour.
The president has been under intense pressure to quit since Attorney-General Meni Mazuz notified him Tuesday that he planned to indict him after a monthslong investigation into allegations by four women who worked for him. The charges include rape, abuse of power and sexual assault.