Avigdor Lieberman benefited from the presumption of innocence throughout the years of investigations and prosecutions. Now that the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court has acquitted him, that presumption will be even stronger in the event of an appeal. The state, which tried him, believed Lieberman to be a criminal, but the judges ruled otherwise.
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But while citizen Lieberman emerged from the trial unscathed, he is unfit to be a cabinet minister. Despite acquitting him, in their ruling the judges were scathing in their characterization of his conduct. Israel's commitment to the rule of law give their descriptions weight.
"His acts are not proper nor ethical and do not meet the standard expected of a public figure, especially one in the lofty position of minister in the Israeli government," the judges wrote.
The court was not alone in condemning Lieberman's conduct. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, who inexplicably closed the case concerning Lieberman's shell companies about a year ago, said at the time, "Many questions and puzzles remain. Needless to say, closing a criminal file for lack of evidence does not constitute a public 'kosher certificate' and cannot totally erase these questions."
Weinstein concluded by saying "therefore this is a decision in the criminal realm, which is under my jurisdiction. As for other aspects – let the public read and judge."
It isn't the public who should read and judge, however, but rather Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who expressed he is glad to have Lieberman's back at the Foreign Ministry.
Beyond the fact that he is not suitable to be foreign minister, especially while Israel is negotiating with the Palestinians, Lieberman's severe violation of the principles of public service are intolerable.
Netanyahu should make use of the remarks of the judges who acquitted Lieberman to keep him from returning to the cabinet. He must go beyond their verdict, to their description of his conduct. Lieberman is unfit to serve in the government.