Avigdor Lieberman: Israel's embattled Foreign Minister steps down

 

Jerusalem

Formally stepping down Sunday to face corruption charges, Israel's outspoken foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, predicted that he would soon return to his post after expedited legal proceedings.

Lieberman announced Friday that he would resign after Israel's attorney general said he would indict Lieberman on charges of fraud and breach of trust, but not on more serious suspicions of illicitly receiving millions of dollars from foreign business tycoons while holding public office.

A blunt ultra-nationalist who has accused the Palestinians of "diplomatic terrorism" and called for a loyalty oath by Israel's Arab citizens, Lieberman is expected to remain a powerful force in Israeli politics and is running in upcoming elections.

Lieberman's party, Yisrael Beteinu, the third-largest faction in parliament, is campaigning on a joint ticket with the Likud party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

After submitting his resignation letter Sunday to Netanyahu, who will now handle the foreign portfolio, Lieberman said that his departure from office, weeks before the vote on Jan. 22, would be brief.

"I am leaving temporarily," he told reporters. "I assume that this time the break will be very short."

Lieberman said he hoped legal proceedings would be speedy and while not ruling out a plea bargain, he asserted that he intended to argue his case in court.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein announced last week that he would indict Lieberman for promoting Israel's former ambassador to Belarus after the envoy gave the foreign minister confidential information on moves by the Israeli authorities to investigate his suspected financial dealings there.

Lieberman has said he wants to settle the case before the elections. Although that is viewed as unlikely, he is legally permitted to run for parliament as long as he is not convicted.

Polls have shown that the combined list of Netanyahu's and Lieberman's parties could win close to 40 seats in the 120-member legislature, emerging as the dominant faction.

Reuven Hazan, a political scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said that Lieberman's indictment and resignation were unlikely to affect voting patterns, particularly among backers of his party.

"His public is not going to vote against him because of this," Hazan said.

Even with a trial underway, Lieberman could take a seat in the elected parliament, but could not be appointed minister, pending the result of the court proceedings.

Given the structure of Lieberman's party, in which he wields full control, "he doesn't have to be a member of parliament or the government, but still pulling all the strings from the outside, making all the major decisions and being the major vote magnet for the party," Hazan said.

Originally from Moldova and living in a West Bank settlement, Lieberman has strong support among the 1 million immigrants from the former Soviet Union in Israel as well as other voters who share his ultra-nationalist views.

Along with his broadsides at the Palestinians and Israeli Arabs, he recently lashed out at European nations for their protests against new plans for expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Lieberman charged that Europe was willing to sacrifice Israel to appease Islamic radicals, comparing Israel's situation to that of Czechoslovakia on the eve of the 1938 Nazi invasion.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Full Stack Developer (.NET 4.0, ASP.NET, MVC, Ajax, WCF,SQL)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Full Stack ...

AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - Investment Management

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...

Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pillar 1, 2 & 3) Insurance

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pilla...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn