Israel indicts former foreign minister Lieberman

JERUSALEM Sun Dec 30, 2012 6:41am EST

Avigdor Lieberman speaks at a conference for young members of his Yisrael Beiteinu party in Tel Aviv December 13, 2012. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Avigdor Lieberman speaks at a conference for young members of his Yisrael Beiteinu party in Tel Aviv December 13, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Amir Cohen

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli far-right leader Avigdor Lieberman was charged on Sunday with fraud and breach of trust, allegations that prompted his resignation as foreign minister two weeks ago, justice officials said.

Lieberman, who has denied the accusations, remains head of the Yisrael Beitenu party that has formed a coalition with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party ahead of a January 22 parliamentary election.

Israeli justice officials said Lieberman was indicted on charges relating to the promotion of an Israeli diplomat who had illegally given him information about a police investigation against him.

Under Israeli law, conviction on the fraud and breach of trust charges could disqualify Lieberman from holding a cabinet post in the next government.

Lieberman, who lives in a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, has stoked controversy by questioning the loyalties of Israel's 1.5 million Arab citizens.

His comments have drawn accusations of racism but have also given him a large electoral following beyond his Russian-speaking base.

Earlier this month, he angered the European Union by saying it had not sufficiently condemned calls by Hamas Islamists for Israel's destruction, likening this to Europe's failure to stop Nazi genocide against Jews during World War Two.

The European Union foreign policy chief called the comments offensive and reiterated the bloc's commitment to Israel's security.

Born in Moldova, Lieberman emigrated to Israel in 1978. He became administrative head of the Likud party in 1993 and ran the prime minister's office from 1996 to 1997 during Netanyahu's first term. He left and formed Yisrael Beitenu in 1999.

Lieberman is the latest in a string of Israeli politicians to face corruption charges in recent years. Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert resigned in 2008 after being indicted, though he has since been acquitted of most of the charges against him.

(Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Andrew Heavens)

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Comments (6)
sylvan wrote:
Yes. Bibi and Lieberman are great instigators of violence and illegal land grabs. I hope Israel returns to its peaceful ways, and throws Bibi and his cronies under the bus.

Dec 30, 2012 4:36am EST  --  Report as abuse
Tiu wrote:
Fraud and breech of trust are Lieberman’s only two good personal attributes.

Dec 30, 2012 7:36am EST  --  Report as abuse
McBob08 wrote:
The UN needs to place sanctions on Israel for its Apartheid against its Palestinian citizens, and jagoffs like Lieberman are the very reason why the international community needs to put its foot down about Israel. Land snatching (not all of it from Palestine), illegal blockades, bombing civilian homes, bulldozing Palestinian homes and businesses illegally, keeping much-needed international aid from reaching the places the Israeli government has turned into disaster areas with its heavy-handed treatment of its Palestinian citizens — these things cannot be tolerated anymore. All aid to Israel must be stopped and heavy sanctions placed on it until it starts negotiating with Palestine in good faith and equanimity.

The time is past when Jews should be able to shame people into bowing to their whims because of something that happened over 60 years ago, Israel is acting as bad as the Nazis did these days, so it’s time to start shaming the Zionist Extremists into behaving like responsible adults for a change instead of crying “Antisemitism” all the time.

Dec 30, 2012 9:12am EST  --  Report as abuse
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