AG Urged to Investigate Nature of Lieberman's Secret Vienna Visit

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Former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

MK Issawi Freij (Meretz) sent a letter on Tuesday to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, requesting he investigate Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's secret trip to Vienna, as revealed by Haaretz.

Labor Party MK Shelly Yacimovich also called on Lieberman to disclose the reasons for his Vienna visit, saying that even though his meeting with businessman Martin Schlaff was a grave matter, taking a private trip on the taxpayer's dime was far worse.

The secret visit and the meeting with Schalff, Yacimovich said, "look bad and raise serious suspicions of a trip meant for private political needs while using Israel's foreign relations, state funds, and Lieberman's status as foreign minister. Lieberman must reveal to the public the details and goals of the trip, including the reasons why it was kept from the media and senior Foreign Ministry officials, the nature of his relationship with Schlaff and who paid for Vienna detour and the stay there."

Lieberman’s office confirmed on Monday that he held “sensitive diplomatic meetings” over the weekend in Vienna, where he also met with an Austrian businessman Martin Schlaff. The trip had been kept secret from most of the ministry’s high-ranking officials, and took the Austrian Foreign Ministry by surprise as well.

MK Freij wrote to the AG that since Schlaff is the only person known to have met with Lieberman, Weinstein should investigate whether the foreign minister did indeed hold "sensitive diplomatic meetings" or travel to Vienna in a private visit paid for by the taxpayer.

"Did sensitive diplomatic meetings take place in Vienna?" Freij asked in the letter. "What was their nature? Why wasn't the visit coordinated with the Austrian Foreign Ministry?"

Lieberman's travels should be paid for by the state, Freij wrote, "as long as the foreign minister travels on Israel's behalf… but if the Vienna visit was first and foremost concerned with private meetings, there is no reasons the state should carry the costs of flying the foreign minister and his entourage and of their stay." Lieberman has a right to visit his friends, he added, "but not on our dime."

In the event that Weinstein finds that Lieberman's visit was mostly a private matter, the AG should force the foreign minister to pay back the costs of the trip "and look into the possibility of trying him for using state funds for his private needs," writes Freij.

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