Jerusalem - Israeli Foreign Minister Quits After Indictment
Jerusalem - Israel’s powerful foreign minister announced his resignation from government Friday, a day after an indictment for breach of trust was filed against him by the country’s attorney general, in a move that shakes up the election campaign and affects Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s votes.
Avigdor Lieberman continued to maintain his innocence in a statement and indicated that he could return to politics in time for the national elections in January if he was cleared or could reach a plea bargain.
“Even though I know I did not break any law ... I have decided to resign from my position as foreign minister and deputy prime minister,” Lieberman said. “After 16 years of investigations against me I can end this issue quickly without delay and completely clear my name,” he said.
Lieberman said he made the decision Friday after conferring with his lawyers and with his election campaign staff. “I am doing this because I am convinced that Israel’s citizens should be able to go to the polls after this matter has been settled ... and I can continue to serve the state of Israel and Israel’s citizens as part of a strong united leadership that will cope with the security, economic and political challenges it faces,” he said.
Lieberman was charged Thursday with breach of trust in a fraud and money-laundering case threatening to upend the Israeli political system just a month before parliamentary elections.
The Soviet-born Lieberman is head of Yisrael Beitenu, an ultranationalist party that is especially popular with immigrants from the former Soviet Union. With a tough-talking message that has questioned the loyalty of Israel’s Arab minority, sharply criticized the Palestinians and confronted Israel’s foreign critics, he has at times alienated Israel’s allies while becoming an influential voice in Israeli politics.
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