Meretz Chair Petitions High Court for Lieberman's Dismissal

Meretz party chair Zahava Gal-On urges Lieberman's removal after the foreign minister was indicted for breach of trust and fraud; Lieberman says will consult with lawyers whether to resign.

Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior
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Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior

Meretz party chairperson Zahava Gal-On on Friday petitioned the High Court of Justice to order Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to step down, as he is set to be indicted for breach of trust over an incident involving Israel's former ambassador to Belarus, Ze'ev Ben Aryeh.

The petition, against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Lieberman, and the government's Legal Adviser Yehuda Weinstein was filed by attorney Dafna Holtz-Lechner. In addition to calling for Lieberman's dismissal, Gal-On requested in the petition that the court order Weinstein to deem Lieberman's offenses as crimes involving moral turpitude.

"The indictment shows that these most serious offenses perpetrated by Israel's Foreign Minister are tainted with moral turpitude," read the petition. "The actions and circumstances surrounding them represent a heavy blow to the elements of integrity on which public service is based. Therefore, the very nature and circumstances of the crimes committed harms not only the public good, but the foundations of the governmental structure as well."

Gal-On claimed that over the years, Lieberman's actions have been clouded in suspicion. In response to Weinstein's decision to close the more major cases against Lieberman, Gal-on said that "the Legal Adviser decided to close the file due to the absence of sufficient evidence, and this decision also conveys a disturbing picture of the moral fault found in Lieberman's actions and conduct.

The petition also stated that "there is no doubt that Lieberman continuing to serve as a senior minister in the Israeli government sends a clear, resounding message to the public that the state leadership, and the heads of the judicial system in Israel do not as much as flinch at acts of fraud and breach of trust and even believe that public officials, who commit serious acts such as Lieberman's, are deserving of leading the country. This kind of message has a far-reaching and destructive influence on the Israeli public, one that will prevent any future government action against corruption and crime from achieving its goal."

Lieberman addressed his indictment by Israel's attorney general on Thursday evening, saying he will decide whether to resign according to the advice of his lawyers and according to the effect it will have on his voters.

Lieberman said he has been persecuted for the last 16 years as a target of the State Prosecutor. Clarifying the duration of the investigation, which was rumored at anywhere from three years to 12 years, Lieberman said: "The truth is that the investigation started the second week of July 1996; from then until today, it has been one prolonged investigation and there wasn’t one day that I wasn't a target of intelligence."

Party leader Zahava Gal-On, right, and other Meretz MKs celebrate their endorsement by a party conference. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

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