Watchdog Petitions High Court Against Lieberman FM Pick

Movement for Quality Government: Appointment extremely unreasonable in light of probes against MK.

The Movement for Quality Government petitioned the High Court of Justice Thursday against the appointment of Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman as deputy prime minister and foreign minister.

The group said the appointment is unreasonable given that Lieberman is under criminal investigation on suspicion of bribery, fraud, breach of trust, money-laundering and falsifying corporate documents.

The petition asked the court to order Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel the coalition agreement between his Likud party and Yisrael Beiteinu and refrain from appointing Lieberman to the positions in question. It also asked the court to bar the Knesset from approving the new government, since the coalition agreement on which it is based is, in the petitioner's view, illegal.

In addition, the group asked the court to cancel those portions of the agreement that authorize Lieberman to appoint a member of his faction as minister of public security, who is the minister responsible for the police; to choose three ministers from his faction to serve on the Ministerial Committee for Legislation; and to choose a Knesset member from his faction to serve on the Judicial Appointments Committee.

"Under the auspices of the coalition agreement, the respondent [Lieberman], who is under investigation for serious and ongoing offenses, seeks to have a hand in every law enforcement agency and appoint his yes-men, people who answer to him and owe him their jobs," the petition stated.

As foreign minister, it added, Lieberman would be in a conflict of interests if, as expected, the investigation against him requires taking depositions overseas.

The movement asked the court to schedule a prompt hearing on the petition.