Israeli politicians publicly commented on the decision of Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to indict Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
for fraud and breach of trust in the case of the former Israeli ambassador to Belarus and close the main corruption case against him.
As centrist and left-wing parties were demanding that Lieberman resign, rightist diplomats offered support to the minister, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
who congratulated Lieberman for the fact that the corruption charges against him were dropped.
"I believe in the Israeli justice system and respect it. I hope he will prove his innocence in the final issue that remains," the PM said, referring to the breach of trust and fraud charges Lieberman still faces.
Most responses, however, demanded that the minister step down immediately. "Avigdor Lieberman must resign today," a Labor
Party statement noted. "The crimes attributed to him are extremely severe and his conduct jeopardized Israeli democracy and the rule of law."
"It is clear that the case – pertaining to felonies that made Lieberman a rich man – was closed due to intentional sabotage of the investigation and red tape within the office of the Attorney General," the statement added.
Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On threatened to take the case to the High Court of Justice and force Lieberman to resign, if he does not submit his resignation of his own accord: "Lieberman engaged in corruption and breach of public trust. If the minister does not announce his immediate resignation, I will petition the High Court myself and will force him to."
Gal-On added that "Lieberman's recent attacks of the European community, aimed to divert public attention from the indictment against him, prove that every day he is still in office causes more irreparable damage to the State of Israel."
Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid also urged the foreign minister to hand in his resignation, saying "It's impossible that someone who according to the attorney general caused serious harm to the public and was involved in a clear case of conflict of interests in the face of his public duties will continue to serve in the government and represent Israel in the world."
MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al)
joined his colleagues' demand that Lieberman step down.
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar (Likud) issued a statement in which he said it was "unfortunate that Minister Lieberman will be tried for a minor clause in a case that was closed," adding that the said clause was "controversial among law experts."
Hatnua movement called on the foreign minister to "act according to Israeli legal norms, to which all ministers who faced indictments adhered, and immediately resign from the government."
Foreign Minister Lieberman's attorneys said that they honor Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein's decision and are reviewing it.
"Regarding the ambassador's case, we will note that the High Court of Justice has determined in the past that the 'omission of information' is not severe enough to remove him from his position."
Moran Azulay, Yuval Karni and Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report
Moran Azulay and Yuval Karni are Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth correspondents
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