AG: Lieberman App't a Public Issue, Not a Legal One

The question of whether MK Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) should be allowed to serve as deputy prime minister and foreign minister while he is under police investigation is not a legal issue, but rather a political and public one, a representative of Attorney General Menachem Mazuz told the High Court of Justice yesterday

Mazuz asked the court to reject a petition filed by the Movement for Quality Government against Lieberman's appointment.

A statement presenting Mazuz's opinion, prepared by the High Court petitions department in the State Prosecutor's Office, contended that since the investigation of Lieberman was not over, it could not be known whether it would produce enough evidence for an indictment.

The petition also cited a possible conflict of interests if Lieberman were appointed foreign minister, since some of the investigation against him is being conducted abroad. Mazuz's representative responded that the foreign minister has no standing regarding requests for legal assistance from foreign countries.

The petition also said there would be a conflict of interest in the appointment of a member of Lieberman's party, Yisrael Beiteinu, as public security minister, who is in charge of the police, considering the police investigation against Lieberman. The attorney general's response was that "even if a far-fetched conflict of interest exists ... there cannot be said to be a legal impediment" to the appointment.

The Movement for Quality Government also objected to the appointment of members of Yisrael Beiteinu to the Ministerial Legislation Committee. The state responded that the makeup of the committee was a matter for the cabinet to decide, and that the number of Yisrael Beiteinu members on the committee would be based on its relative size in the coalition.