Livni Slams Government for Not Backing Police in Lieberman Probe

Opposition chief: Netanyahu, security minister should defend cops over FM's charges of political persecution.

Kadima chairwoman and opposition chief Tzipi Livni leveled harsh criticism at the government on Monday for failing to publicly support the police in its investigation of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

"I have always made sure to completely preserve the principle of the separation of powers," Livni told party deputies on Monday. "Lieberman has a right to fight for his innocence, but he cannot claim that the Israel Police is persecuting him out of political motives."

The police's National Fraud Squad recommended Sunday that Lieberman be indicted for serious crimes including money laundering, accepting bribes, obstruction of justice and harassing a witness. Lieberman is suspected of setting up a chain of front companies and bank accounts that allowed him to take in more than NIS 10 million. The investigation, spanning more than a decade, has been one of Israel's longest ever.

The police also say they have accumulated enough evidence to bring charges against Lieberman's attorney, Yoav Many, and other people linked to the minister.

The foreign minister issued a formal response minutes after news of the police recommendation broke. He said that "for the past 13 years the police have been on a campaign against me, and the more my political power and that of Yisrael Beiteinu increased, the more intense have been their efforts to remove me from public work."

Lieberman says there was no good reason to investigate him. "If the suspicions had any basis, the investigation would not have lasted more than a decade," he added.

He said it was only his petition to the High Court of Justice about a delay of justice that forced the police to get their act together. "There is no basis to the police recommendation. In other instances, their recommendations for an indictment ended without charges being pressed or in an acquittal, and this will also be the case now," he said.

Livni, who was succeeded by Lieberman in the foreign minister's post, took Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich to task for their silence in light of Lieberman's harsh criticism of the police.

"There needs to be public backing of the police and the first person who needs to extend such support is the public security minister, but he is silent," Livni said.