Israel’s Lieberman says he will resign from politics if convicted


Former Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he would resign from politics if he is convicted of fraud and breach of trust in the current indictment against him.

Lieberman, who remains head of theYisrael Beiteinu Party, and is number two on the combined Knesset list of his party and the Likud Party behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Monday in an Army Radio interview that he would resign even if not required to by law.

Lieberman would be required to step down if a conviction carries moral turpitude.

Lieberman resigned at the end of December as foreign minister, shortly before his indictment on charges of fraud and breach of trust for allegedly advancing the position of Zeev Ben Aryeh, Israel's former ambassador to Belarus, in exchange for information on an investigation against him. The charges came after Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein on Dec. 13 closed a 12-year investigation of Lieberman in other cases.

Lieberman 's statement that he would resign if convicted, follow statements last week by his party's number two, Yair Shamir, son of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, that Lieberman should resign if found guilty.

“A public official who faltered while in public service must make way for those who have not. Whether the offense carries the designation of moral turpitude or not is irrelevant,” said Shamir, formerly an executive with El Al.

“I agree with him,” Lieberman said on Army Radio. “I think that there have to be clear norms. Even if there is no moral turpitude, I will not continue in politics. There must be clear norms.”

He added that Shamir will not be penalized for his comments “I have no problems with what Shamir said and Shamir will without any doubt have a senior role in the Likud Beiteinu government,” he said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon is reportedly the state's key witness in the Ben Aryeh case, and reportedly will testify against Lieberman during the trial. Shortly before the indictment was formally issued, Lieberman announced that Ayalon would not be included on the Yisrael Beiteinu Knesset list for the January elections. Ayalon stayed on at the Foreign Ministry despite Lieberman stepping down.

Avigdor Lieberman formally charged in Jerusalem court


Former Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was formally charged with fraud and breach of trust.

The indictment, which reportedly includes new and stronger evidence against Lieberman, was filed with the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on Sunday morning. Lieberman is charged with advancing the position of Zeev Ben Aryeh, Israel's former ambassador to Belarus, in exchange for information on an investigation against him.

An abuse of authority accusation could mean the court will add moral turpitude to any conviction. Those convicted of moral turpitude cannot seek public office for at least seven years.

Lieberman had waived his parliamentary immunity, seeking a speedy trial that he hoped would be over before the Jan. 22 elections. That no longer appears possible.

The indictment followed questioning of members of a Foreign Ministry appointments panel who previously had not been questioned, as well as further questioning of Lieberman.

Lieberman resigned last week as foreign minister, although he remains a member of the Knesset and the head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party.

His resignation came days after Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein on Dec. 13 closed a 12-year investigation of Lieberman, dismissing most of the charges but saying he would file the indictment for fraud and breach of trust. Last spring, Ben Aryeh confessed that he had received and passed documents to Lieberman in 2008.

The filing of the indictment had been postponed in order to question the additional members of the appointments panel.

New evidence includes a conversation between Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon that reportedly shows Lieberman actively lobbying for Ben Aryeh's appointment as ambassador to Belarus. Ayalon reportedly will testify against Lieberman during the trial.

Lieberman announced recently that Ayalon would not be included on the Yisrael Beiteinu Knesset list for the January elections. The party is running on a joint candidates' list with the ruling Likud Party. Ayalon has stayed on at the Foreign Ministry despite Lieberman stepping down.