Ze'ev Ben Aryeh, Israel's former ambassador to Belarus, was sentenced on Sunday to four months of community service for passing details to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman regarding a police investigation into alleged crimes committed by him.
Ben Aryeh was convicted of obstruction of justice and passing information to an unauthorized person, after issuing a confession as part of a plea bargain. He received a four-month jail sentence, which was converted by Jerusalem District Court Judge Hagit Kalmanovich to community service.
Ben Aryeh, who served as Israel's ambassador to Belarus between 2004 and 2009, was charged in May of alerting Lieberman to the fact that Israel Police had requested the help of Belarusian police as part of its investigation into crimes allegedly committed by Lieberman.
All such requests for help from foreign police forces are submitted through Israel's ambassadors. When he learned of the request, Ben Aryeh met with Lieberman, who was visiting Belarus as an MK, and briefed him on it. The ambassador also handed Lieberman documents dealing with the request, despite his knowing that the investigation was meant to be kept secret.
In her verdict, the judge wrote that Ben Aryeh had committed a grave offense which could have seriously obstructed the Lieberman investigation. She noted, however, that it was a one-time mistake on his part, for which he had confessed and expressed regret.
In an earlier court session, Judge Kalmanovich said that the incident would probably not have been revealed were it not for Ben Aryeh's confession. During that session Ben Aryeh said that the exposure of his action put an end to his long diplomatic career and asked the court to take that into consideration.
A police investigation into suspicions against Avigdor Lieberman, whose party Yisrael Beiteinu last week united with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud, has been ongoing for several years.
In April 2011, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein announced that he had tentatively decided to indict Lieberman on charges of fraud, breach of trust, aggravated fraud, money laundering and witness harassment.