The Prosecution's Negligence Over Lieberman

Who in the prosecution will be held accountable for its flawed conduct throughout the entire Lieberman case?

MK Avigdor Lieberman evaded a serious indictment for fraud and money laundering two weeks ago. But alongside the major case that was closed, one small case remained open: an indictment for breach of trust in connection with the appointment of former ambassador Ze'ev Ben Aryeh, who was allegedly rewarded for revealing confidential legal material relating to a police investigation of Lieberman that Israel had requested from Belarus.

Yet just as the State Prosecutor's Office, and Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein above it, were responsible for one failure - the prolonged foot-dragging in the major case, which helped Lieberman portray himself as a victim of injustice - they are also responsible for another: the negligent handling of the case of the ambassador's appointment. Only after the indictment was announced, and after Lieberman's consequent resignation, did the prosecution remember to question members of the Foreign Ministry's appointments committee and obtain updated responses from Lieberman.

Before indicting Lieberman in the Ben Aryeh affair, Weinstein wavered over whether it was really appropriate to attribute criminal significance to the matter. Ben Aryeh clearly committed breach of trust: As a public employee, he is required to be loyal to the law and the state, not to a private citizen (as Lieberman was at the time ) or to his superior (as Lieberman became a few months later ). Therefore, after the incident came to light, Ben Aryeh was tried and convicted in a plea bargain based on his own confession.

Weinstein's indecision focused on Leiberman's conduct, because after all, it is only human to return a favor. But when Lieberman offered Ben Aryeh a place on his staff, and then sent him to another posting in a manner that violated the foreign service's rules, he must be evaluated not as a friend in time of need, but as an elected official. In Weinstein's opinion, Lieberman failed this test, and should therefore be prosecuted.

But Weinstein's hesitations justify neither his conduct nor that of the prosecution. Completing the investigation into the Ben Aryeh affair might or might not change the severity of the indictment; ultimately, the court will rule on this matter. But the public issue that cries out for attention is who in the prosecution will be held accountable for its flawed conduct throughout the entire case.