Israeli official colluded with Manafort in anti-Semitism scandal
Lieberman seeks identity of Israeli official who US prosecutors say collaborated with Trump's former campaign strategist during Obama administration to discredit Ukrainian opposition leader as having links to anti-Semitic party; Lieberman denies being unnamed suspect, says he has never met or spoken to Paul Manafort.
An indictment submitted against Manafort said that he acted, together with a senior Israeli official in order to discredit the leader of the opposition in the eastern European country, Yulia Tymoshenko, and to label her as an anti-Semite.
According to the indictment, Manafort and the Israeli official colluded to ensure that Israel would publish a statement against an anti-Semitic comment made by one of Tymoshenko’s supporters.
Manafort subsequently worked to ensure that the Israeli statement was disseminated and received further exposure in what was a ploy to pressure the Obama administration at the time to shun Tymoshenko and to support the pro-Russian government in Ukraine.
“Manafort coordinated privately with a senior Israeli government official to issue a written statement publicizing this story,” the indictment said. “Manafort then, with secret advance knowledge of that Israeli statement, worked to disseminate this story in the United States.”
The indictment makes reference to Manafort’s scheme designed to whip up hysteria among “Obama jews” in order to “put pressure” on the administration to throw its weight behind the then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
Yanukovych served as President of Ukraine from 2010 until his ouster in the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, amid unrest over his push to take the Eastern European country back into the Russian sphere of influence and away from the EU.
Yanukovych, who is thought to be close to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, now lives in exile in Russia. Within days of Yanukovych fleeing, Russia took military action that ultimately lead to the annexation of the Crimea Peninsula from Ukraine.
The indictment does not elaborate on the identity of the Israeli official. However, in October 2012, Lieberman, who was then serving as the foreign minister, published a statement that was identical in nature to the statement contained in the indictment.
Lieberman denied having any connection with the issue and maintains that he never spoke to Manafort or met with him.
Lieberman’s latest request to Shaked on the matter was a partial attempt to remove any further suspicion that he was the official who colluded with Trump’s former campaign strategist.
Lieberman’s close associates have emphasized that there was also a host of other Israeli officials at the time who came out against the developments in Ukraine and against the entry of the nationalist Freedom into parliament.
At the time, the current Israeli Envoy to the UN Danny Danon—who was then serving as the Minister of Aliyah and Absorption—asked Ukraine’s authorities to provide protection to the Jewish community there against the anti-Semitic Freedom party.
Danon also announced that he was considering holding emergency committee meetings in order to examine the activities being undertaken by the Ukrainian government to solve the case surrounding the murder of a Jewish doctor and steps taken to prevent anti-Semitic parties from promoting more attacks on Jews in the country.
In addition, 61 MKs signed a petition that was sent to the European parliament against the Freedom party and its ties with Tymoshenko's Fatherland party.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry initially refused to pass comment on the official statement of condemnation that was published in October 2012 and declined to respond to the question of whether proper staff work was carried out prior to its publication, or whether it was a directive from one senior official or another.
Former MK Zehava Galon (Meretz) urged Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to launch a criminal investigation against the Israeli official who colluded with Manafort.
The letter written to Mandelblit says that the unnamed official may have received personal gain for his role in the affair. Moreover, it says that the official exploited his position to promote the interests of Manafort, Russia and Russian officials in Ukraine.
Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay also called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to immediately investigate the matter and to make public the identity of the official embroiled in the affair.
The Foreign Ministry, however, defended the statement of condemnation that was published at the time
“The condemnation of the Foreign Ministry at the time was correct and timely, against an anti-Semitic party that spread its satanic doctrine on dozens of occasions,” the ministry’s statement said.
“Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman does not know Manafort, has never met him and has never spoken to him. All the rest is fictional science for conspiracy lovers,” it added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.