State Prosecution to Submit Indictment Against Lieberman in Coming Days

If Lieberman is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude after he is presumably elected to the next Knesset, he would have to resign immediately.

Ofra Edelman
Jonathan Lis
Ofra Edelman
Jonathan Lis

The State Prosecution is expected to indict outgoing Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman for fraud and breach of trust in the coming days, after Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein announced last week that other charges against him will be dropped.

It was initially reported that the indictment will be submitted on Tuesday, but it was eventually delayed. 

Lieberman's resignation came into effect at 10:00 A.M. on Tuesday. Weinstein met on Monday with Lieberman's defense attorney to discuss a possible plea bargain.

Lieberman is accused of promoting Israel's ambassador to Belarus, Ze'ev Ben Aryeh, after the latter handed over confidential information about an investigation of Lieberman by Belarusian authorities.

Minister Michael Eitan (Likud) has asked Weinstein to attach "moral turpitude" to the charges of fraud and breach of trust against Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

If Lieberman is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude after he is presumably elected to the next Knesset, he would have to resign immediately. If he were convicted and also sentenced to a prison term of three months or more, he would be prevented from running for the Knesset for seven years after completing his sentence.

However, if the Yisrael Beiteinu chairman is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude before the January 22 election without being sentenced to jail, he would be able to run in the election for the next Knesset. He would also be forced to resign from the current Knesset.

Lieberman "gave preference to his personal interests over loyalty to the state," said Eitan. Ben Aryeh's subsequent appointment as ambassador to Latvia, Eitan said, "comes not just as payment for the personal service rendered, but also as a look toward the future, with the intention of receiving similar services in the future."

Weinstein met on Monday with Lieberman's defense attorney, Giora Aderet, to discuss charges against Lieberman in the case concerning Ben Aryeh, who himself confessed to obstruction of justice and breach of trust in a plea bargain.

The parties were expected to try to reduce the disagreement between them to enable the conclusion of the legal proceedings as quickly as possible, and the talks might ultimately yield a plea bargain.

Lieberman denied the reports of his intention to end the proceedings with a plea bargain. "The intention is not to agree to a plea bargain, but to go to court," he explained. At the same time, those who examine his words carefully can note a slight reservation: "I am not ruling out anything," he said, "but the intention is first of all to go to court."

Lieberman has a significant interest in signing a plea bargain if it includes agreements with the State Prosecutor's Office on the issue of moral turpitude. According to the Basic Law on the Government (1992), a person cannot be appointed minister for seven years after completion of a sentence for an offense bearing moral turpitude. A plea bargain stating that Lieberman's offenses do not constitute moral turpitude would allow him to return to the cabinet even if he were convicted.

Avigdor Lieberman. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

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