MK Avigdor Lieberman is the one the attorney general said he was indicting Thursday evening - not the deputy prime minister or the foreign minister. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein notified Lieberman's attorneys; he also notified the Knesset speaker and the House Committee chairman, who, along with Lieberman, are on the Likud-Beiteinu ticket for the January 22 election.
Lieberman is being charged with fraud and breach of trust. The affair began with Lieberman allegedly tipped off about secret information on the investigations against him. But he still promoted the man who so graciously tipped him off. Lieberman promoted Israel's former ambassador to Belarus to his diplomatic staff and later to Israel's embassy in Latvia.
The place for a minister charged with such an offense, which occurred in circumstances directly related to his position, is not the cabinet. He must resign not only due to custom, but because common sense and proper conduct demand it.
If a civil servant had been charged with fraud and breach of trust, he would have been sent packing. This rule must apply to elected officials as well. Ever since minister Aryeh Deri and deputy minister Rafael Pinhasi committed criminal acts in the past two decades, the court has expected a resignation, and its expectation has swiftly been carried out.
Perhaps in time another question will arise - if and when Lieberman may return to the cabinet. It won't just be a question of whether he can remain in the Knesset and be elected to the next one. This will be a legal question if Lieberman is convicted, sentenced to prison and his offense is deemed tainted with moral turpitude. But it will be a public question if he is acquitted or handed a light penalty. The uncertainty after the attorney general closed the file will still hover over Lieberman's head.
This argumentation incriminates Lieberman publicly, even if it doesn't culminate in an indictment. The facts detailed by Weinstein and State Prosecutor Moshe Lador are enough to deny Lieberman public support.
Weinstein failed to explain why in April 2011 he indicted Lieberman for money laundering and other grave offenses and now changed his mind. In the Lieberman case, the law enforcement system has badly shot itself in the foot. It must do some soul-searching, while its chiefs must take personal responsibility, with all this implies.
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