Decision Whether to File More Severe Indictment Against Lieberman Expected in Days

Police conclude investigation into former foreign minister; testimonies strengthen evidence that Lieberman actively promoted appointment of former ambassador to Belarus.

Ofra Edelman
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Israel Police completed its investigation into former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday, and a more severe indictment on charges of fraud and breach of trust is expected to be filed against him in the coming days.

The findings of the investigation by the Lahav 433 national fraud unit and testimonies have been handed over to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, who will decide whether there is enough material there to alter the content of the indictment.

Among the investigation findings is a document describing a discussion Lieberman conducted about Ze'ev Ben Aryeh's appointment as ambassador to Belarus, which constitutes alleged evidence that the former foreign minister actively promoted his appointment.

The attorney general is expected to make the indictment more severe by adding this newly revealed piece of evidence that claims the former foreign minister actively pushed for Ben Aryeh's appointment. This, in addition to the original indictment that included allegations that he failed to disclose to the appointments ministry the fact that ambassador Ben Aryeh handed over confidential information about a judicial inquiry by the police regarding his affairs in Belarus.

The testimonies have strengthened the evidence according to which Lieberman actively promoted Ben Aryeh's appointment, which is likely to influence the court's position regarding whether to apply moral turpitude to the case and have an impact on the future of Lieberman's political career.

Investigators gathered testimony from each member of the Foreign Ministry’s appointments committee who gave their versions of the appointment process.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon also gave testimony to the investigators, who now have the testimony of every committee member. Ayalon’s testimony is the most significant; he headed the committee. According to his testimony, Lieberman turned directly to Ayalon regarding Ben Aryeh’s appointment.

Before being questioned Tuesday, Lieberman spoke at a joint campaign launch for Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu in Jerusalem: "I'll tell you a secret. I am on stage tonight really feeling in seventh heaven. Last time Netanyahu and I stood on this stage together was in 1996, following the dramatic Likud election, who won against all odds. Mr. Prime Minster, I promise you we will be back soon, for a third time, after our big win on January 22."

State Comptroller Joseph Shapira said on Tuesday that "there is no reason to get too excited over the recent developments. The headlines regarding the former foreign minister are still under investigations and cannot be addressed at this time. We'll wait a few days and see."

Avigdor Lieberman. Still has his eyes on a ministerial portfolio.Credit: Reuters