An Israeli parole board has rejected an appeal for early release by the country's former president who is serving a prison sentence for sex crimes.

The board unanimously ruled Thursday that Moshe Katsav should complete his seven year jail term. He has so far served nearly five years.

This was the second time the board refused Katsav's parole request. Katsav attorney Zion Amir said he would appeal the decision.

Katsav resigned in June 2007 after being charged with rape and sexual harassment. He began his sentence in 2011 and has repeatedly professed his innocence.

Israel's presidency is a largely ceremonial office, typically filled by a respected elder statesman expected to rise above politics and serve as a moral compass. Most political power is in the hands of the prime minister.