Lieberman's Trial Begins
by Stephen Lendman
He's an ultranationalist extremist. He represents the worst of Israel's lunatic right-wing fringe. He matches Netanyahu's zealotry. He out-Sharon's Sharon.
He's a latter day Kahanist. In 1988, Israel outlawed his Kach party. It was the first Jewish organization in decades to be called a "threat to national security."
It's resurrected writ large. Lieberman represents Israel's true face. He and majority Israeli hardliners reflect a cancer in the body politic. They're an abomination. They consider Muslims subhuman. They deplore democratic freedoms.
They prioritize persecution, violence and state terror. They legitimize institutionalized racism. They practice it in its worst form. They promote Arab hatred. They spurn rule of law principles.
Lieberman belongs in prison, not government. He's partly sidelined. He's been investigated for years. In August 2009, police gave prosecutors clear evidence of fraud, bribery, money laundering, embezzlement, and obstructing justice.
In May 2010, they recommended adding breach of trust. It was for receiving classified information about his criminal investigation. Doing so violated Israeli law.
In September 2001, he went on trial. He admitted assaulting a 12-year old boy. It was in December 1999. It was in the Nokdim settlement.
The child allegedly hit his son. Boys scrap with other kids often. Fathers seldom intervene violently. He was charged with assault and threatening a minor.
He was convicted. He copped a plea. He paid a small fine to avoid harsher punishment. He got off virtually scot-free.
Perhaps a repeat this time is likely. The fullness of time will tell. He's criminally indicted. Clear evidence shows he committed bribery, embezzlement, money laundering, obstruction of justice, breach of trust, and perhaps more.
In mid-December, Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein dropped major charges. Fraud and breach of trust alone remained.
His day in court arrived. Haaretz  explained serious reservations earlier. On December 25, it headlined "The prosecution's negligence over Lieberman," saying:
"Who in the prosecution will be held accountable for its flawed conduct throughout the entire Lieberman case?"
He evaded serious fraud and money laundering charges. Breach of trust involves rewarding former ambassador Ze'ev Ben Aryeh. It was done in return for services rendered. He revealed confidential legal information relating to Lieberman's case.
Before his indictment, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein "wavered over whether it was really appropriate to attribute criminal significance to the matter."
"Ben Aryeh clearly committed breach of trust. As a public employee, he is required to be loyal to the law and the state, not to a private citizen."
Lieberman was out of government at the time. Several months later he returned. He became an MK and foreign minister.
Ben Aryeh was indicted and tried. He copped a plea. He escaped harsh punishment. Justice was denied.
Lieberman is guilty on all charges. "Weinstein hesitations justify neither his conduct nor that of the prosecution," said Haaretz.
"(T)he public issue that cries out for attention is who in the prosecution will be held accountable for its flawed conduct throughout the entire case."
The same question remains unanswered. Justice delayed assures denying it altogether.
On February 17, Haaretz headlined "Lieberman pleads not guilty as trial gets underway; first hearings set for late April."
Proceedings began at midday in Jerusalem's Magistrate Court. Lieberman pled not guilty. He lied. He's a serial liar.
He's charged with inappropriately naming Ben Aryeh ambassador to Latvia. He did so in return for services rendered.
He was Israel's Belarus ambassador at the time. He gave Lieberman unauthorized information.
Former Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon's a key prosecution witness. Earlier he gave damning testimony.
He did so after Lieberman spurned him. He excluded him from Yisrael Beiteinu's upcoming Knesset list. He retaliated. He heads the Foreign Ministry's appointment process. He knows where the bodies are buried. He provided evidence against Lieberman.
Prior to appointment committee deliberations, Lieberman told Ayalon that Ben Aryeh was "the most fitting candidate and should thus be granted the position."
He withheld vital information at the time. He said nothing about about their personal relationship. Ben Aryeh lost out after background check facts revealed what Lieberman concealed.
Lieberman denies he asked Ayalon to advance Ben Aryeh's appointment. He also denies knowledge of other information pertaining to investigating him earlier.
Ayalon's the prosecution's main witness. On February 16, he said Lieberman tried to advance Foreign Service appointments inappropriately.
On December 14, Lieberman resigned as foreign minister and deputy prime minister. He did so weeks before general elections. He retained his Knesset seat. He said he'll quit politics if convicted.
He vowed to clear his name of all charges. Incriminating ones are longstanding. He hopes to resume serving as foreign minister.
Ayalon said he didn't "earn the trust of the international community and therefore should not have a second" chance to do so.
Labor MK Merav Michaeli said reappointing him foreign minister is unethical. Doing so "reeks" from a public policy perspective. All witnesses in his trial are Foreign Ministry employees.
"How could they testify honestly in a trial when they know that the next moment they will be fully given to the mercy of their next boss, the defendant Lieberman?"
"Netanyahu is in effect telling them: 'I suggest you watch your tongues.' That is improper and it makes a mockery of the law," she said.
According to Israeli jurists, political scientists, and others, any Netanyahu-arranged Lieberman deal violates legal and ethical principles.
During trial proceedings, Lieberman's barred from assuming a cabinet position. He's able to continue Knesset activities.
If convicted of moral turpitude, he'll have to resign immediately.
If sentenced to prison for three months or longer, he's prohibited from seeking a Knesset seat for seven years after completing his sentence.
Three judges will hear his case. Hagit Kalmanovich heads the panel. Yitzhak Shimoni and Eiten Kornhauser serve with him. Sunday's session was mostly procedural.
Haaretz  calls Lieberman the "reigning champion of extrication from possible criminal indictment."
He's confident of acquittal. Weinstein compromised his integrity earlier. He's got much to answer for.
He wouldn't have brought charges unless confident of conviction. He has to accomplish something this time. What's left of his reputation depends on it.
He's still "reeling," said Haaretz, for letting former prime minister Ehud Olmert off easily. He can't afford further disgrace this time.
Critics expressed anger over speculation that Netanyahu serves as foreign minister and prime minister. He reserved the former post for Lieberman, they claim.
Doing so is seen as a prosecutorial no confidence vote. It also perhaps reflects his Yisrael Beiteinu coalition promise.
Israeli law requires disclosing what he did when a new government is formed. Challenging it in High Court may follow.
Justice won't be served either way. Clear evidence showed Lieberman committed serious crimes.
Lengthy imprisonment is warranted. So is permanent government expulsion. Expect neither. Israeli justice is more than blind. It's dead.
Palestinian children wrongly charged with stone-throwing are arrested, intimidated, tortured, fined, and at times imprisoned.
Israelis committing crimes of war, against humanity, and genocide remain free.
Netanyahu, Lieberman, and likeminded hardliners are Israel's worst. They're lawless and unrestrained. They're free to keep committing high crimes. Rogue states operate that way.
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.