Avigdor Lieberman Faces New Charges
by Stephen Lendman
He's Netanyahu's main coalition partner. He represents the lunatic fringe of Israeli governance. He's a serial felon. He's ideologically anti-democratic and hardcore racist.
Weeks ahead of general elections, he resigned. In January, he plans running for reelection anyway. At least so far. Information discussed below may preclude him.
He stands criminally indicted. He deserves prison, not high office. A decade earlier plea bargain avoided harsh punishment. He assaulted a young boy. He copped a plea, paid a small fine, and got off virtually scot-free.
Clear evidence shows he's guilty of bribery, embezzlement, money laundering, obstruction of justice, and breach of trust.
In mid-December, Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein dropped major charges. Fraud and breach of trust remained. At the same time, Weinstein said "suspicions" about Lieberman remain. Further action can't be ruled out.
On December 27, Haaretz headlined "Israel's AG intensifies indictment against Lieberman over ambassador affair."
It relates to Israel's former Belarus ambassador, Ze'ev Ben Aryeh. Documents show Lieberman secured his appointment in return for services rendered. He promoted his ambassadorship to Latvia. Bribery was involved.
Initial Lieberman charges included allegations about not disclosing what happened. On Sunday, a follow-up indictment will be submitted in Jerusalem's Magistrate Court.
Fraud and breach of trust will be included. So will moral turpitude. It's very close to charging bribery. Key language says "a form of recompense for someone who had committed grave acts on his behalf."
Ben Aryeh admitted telling Israel's Justice Ministry and Lieberman about asking Belarus authorities to help with his police investigation.
At the time, Lieberman was a MK. After his foreign ministerial appointment, he repaid Ben Aryeh for services rendered.
Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, gave testimony. He's a key prosecution witness. He did so after Lieberman spurned him. He excluded him from Yisrael Beiteinu's upcoming Knesset list.
A deputy scorned retaliated. Ayalon heads the Foreign Ministry's appointment process. He knows where the bodies are buried. He provided evidence against Lieberman.
Amended charges say he named Ze'ev Ben Aryeh ministry diplomatic advisor. He urged his appointment as Latvian ambassador.
Prior to appointment committee deliberations, Lieberman told Ayalon he was "the most fitting candidate and should thus be granted the position."
Ayalon knew little about him. He followed through on Lieberman's behalf. Ben Aryeh was one of 10 candidates considered.
Lieberman withheld vital information about him. He said nothing about about their personal relationship. Ben Aryeh lost out after background check facts revealed what Lieberman concealed.
Haaretz said "recent testimonies strengthen the evidence (that) Lieberman actively promoted Ben Aryeh's appointment" process.
Doing so "is likely to influence the court's position" on how severely to stiffen charges against him. He won't get what he deserves.
At the same time, he'll face more than he bargained for. It remains to be seen how things play out. It also places his future more in doubt.
On December 27, Haaretz discussed it. It called his "temporary departure" a "potential turning point."
What originally seemed "a minor legal road bump," could end up being "permanent exile." Other party faithful wait to replace him.
Before resigning, Lieberman served 44 months as foreign minister and deputy prime minister. His political future is now on hold. Perhaps he has none.
It's increasingly clear, said Haaretz, that he "won't return to a ministerial seat anytime soon." Attorney General Weinstein faced harsh criticism for dropping key charges. Clear evidence proved guilt.
Major charges are still dropped. Moral turpitude will accompany others fraud and breach of trust. Doing so bans him from politics for seven years. Continuing investigation may add more.
Things aren't yet resolved. Haaretz sums up Lieberman's senior diplomatic tenure as follows:
"He was effectively banned from many Western capitals." He "focused his attention between Prague and (former Bessarabia capital/now Moldova capital) Kishinev."
According to Lieberman, doing so "helped garner support from nations (that) stood by Israel, or at least didn't" support recognizing Palestine's UN upgrade.
Western refusal to recognize him as a legitimate partner "left him sidelined from central arenas."
He and Netanyahu share blame. Prime ministerial support lets him off the hook. Lieberman's not as fortunate. He greatly harmed Israel's international standing by "stubbornly oppos(ing) any Israeli apology" for murdering nine Mavi Mamara Turkish nationals.
That and more made him damaged goods. Perhaps his time came and left. Israel's Maariv daily said Netanyahu may assume foreign ministerial duties post-election.
He did so after Lieberman resigned. Perhaps he'll maintain portfolio responsibilities until his status is resolved. It could take weeks or months.
Other party faithful want their say. Expect foreign ministerial authority scrambling post-elections. Perhaps Lieberman will be dumped in the process.
It bears repeating. He deserves prison, not high office. The same goes for Netanyahu and likeminded Israeli hardliners. They're lawless rogues.
They shame legitimate government. Israeli voters aren't likely to replace them. Regional peace hangs in the balance.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.