Avigdor Lieberman Photo by Olivier Fitoussi
Facing fraud charges in connection with an ambassador’s promotion, Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced his resignation as Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister today just weeks before Israel’s parliamentary elections.
After a long-running investigation involving major allegation of money laundering, aggravated fraud and witness tampering Israel’s Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein decided to indict him on lesser charges of fraud and breach of trust. The main case against Lieberman, involving harassing witnesses, accepting bribes and the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars, has been dropped due to lack of sufficient evidence. Lieberman has denied all charges and accused legal authorities of going on a political witch hunt.
Lieberman suggested that he will try to secure a plea bargain before the upcoming elections in January, and added that he made the decision following deliberations with his lawyers, despite the fact that he was told he was not obligated to resign from his position as foreign minister.
“Even though I know I did not commit any crime… I decided to resign from my post as foreign minister and deputy prime minister,” Lieberman announced Friday. “Following 16 years of investigations against me, I will now be able to end this matter quickly and without delays, and finally clear my name.”
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein on Thursday said he was closing the main case against Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, concluding a 12-year investigation into allegations of money laundering and fraud. However, Weinstein said he would indict Lieberman on lesser charges of fraud and breach of trust, in the case concerning Israel’s former ambassador to Belarus.