Avigdor Lieberman cleared of corruption charges by Israeli court and free to rejoin government


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The Independent Online

An Israeli court has cleared the hard-right politician Avigdor Lieberman of corruption charges, paving the way for him to resume the post of Foreign Minister and to re-emerge in a strengthened position as a potential successor to the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

The unanimous verdict is a further setback to the already troubled US-mediated peace negotiations with the Palestinians, whose very premise of reaching an agreement on all outstanding issues Mr Lieberman has publicly derided.

Mr Lieberman, 55, known for stoking racism against Israel’s Arab minority and for his verbal broadsides against the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, was charged with breach of trust and fraud for allegedly seeking to promote the career of a former diplomat who provided information to him about a separate criminal investigation into his business practices.

It was the biggest challenge for the Moldavian-born immigrant in a career dogged by corruption allegations.

A three judge panel ruled unanimously that Mr Lieberman had not engaged in criminal action, though judges said he had “acted improperly.”

Mr Lieberman told reporters “This is behind me and I don’t intend to be occupied any more with this issue.”