Yisrael Beiteinu chairman, who has announced he is resigning from post of foreign minister, won’t lower his profile due to indictment, associates say
Avigdor Lieberman confirmed on Saturday that he would run in next month’s Knesset elections, despite a corruption charge that prompted him to resign from the post of foreign minister.
Sources close to Lieberman said Saturday that he has no intention of keeping a low profile.
His associates postulated that the politician’s resignation is a public act meant to allow him to clear his name at court and restore his image. And so the chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu and the number two man on the joint Likud-Beiteinu list is expected to play a central role in the election campaign.
Lieberman near his home on Saturday (Photo: Ido Erez)
“Of course he didn’t have to step down,” Knesset Member Faina Kirshenbaum (Yisrael Beiteinu) told Ynet on Saturday. “It was his personal choice and it shows that he stands by his word.
“I think that more than anything he wanted to get this trial over with, and for the first time contend without any threats standing in his way. I hope the prosecution understands that.”
In a statement released on the weekend, Lieberman said that he decided to step down even though he had no obligation to do so.
“I know that I have done nothing wrong, but out of desire to put this matter behind me… I have decided to step down as foreign minister and deputy prime minister and, as I said yesterday, have my parliamentary immunity removed immediately.
“After 16 years of having various investigations against me, I wish to end this matter without delay and clear my name completely,” Lieberman said.
Lieberman is expected to submit his resignation letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday. He is also set to file an official request to lift his immunity to allow the state to indict him.
Sources close to the foreign minister said that the law suit is straightforward and should be resolved without delay, most likely via a plea bargain that won’t stipulate moral turpitude or community service.
“There are no witnesses who must fly in from abroad, no complicated legal proceedings… Everything has been discussed and all the versions have been heard,” one source said. “This has to be brought to an end as soon as possible… He wants to clear his name, and he believes he can do this before the election.”
Lieberman’s resignation announcement failed to satisfy his opponents on the Left. Labor Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich, who has declared she will not join a coalition that includes an indicted minister, is expected to take part on Sunday in a conference held by her party under the title “Preserving the Rule of Law.”
MeretzChairwoman Zehava Gal-On expressed doubt that Lieberman’s trial could be completed ahead of the elections.
“Everyone should calm down,” she added, dismissing Lieberman’s laments over being probed for over a decade. “One might think that he is (Alfred) Dreyfus, and not someone who did everything to impede the investigation.”