The State Attorney’s Office for Economic Affairs filed an indictment in the
Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, charging a former ambassador with
disclosure in breach of duty and obstruction of justice.
who served as Israel’s ambassador to Belarus between 2004-2009, is alleged to
have disclosed confidential information to Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman in
2008 regarding a request by Israeli police to the Belarusian authorities for
assistance in a criminal investigation into Liberman, who at the time was an
The State Attorney’s Office said that Attorney-General Yehuda
Weinstein approved the indictment, which was filed after Ben-Aryeh testified in
a hearing in the State Attorney’s Office. The indictment was filed alongside a
notice of a plea bargain agreement reached by the parties, in which Ben-Aryeh
According to the indictment, Ben- Aryeh was
responsible for handling requests regarding the transfer of legal assistance
between Israeli and Belarusian law enforcement authorities.
indictment charges that in February 2008, Ben-Aryeh received a request that
Israeli police had sent to its embassy in Belarus for assistance relating to the
criminal investigation into Liberman, who at the time served as an
The police asked that the request be referred to the Belarusian
judicial authorities, the indictment said.
According to the indictment,
Liberman visited Belarus in October 2008, and met with Ben-Aryeh. During that
meeting, Ben-Aryeh allegedly told Liberman about the request for legal
assistance, and gave him various details about it, including in
The indictment said Ben-Aryeh exploited the trust placed in him
as an ambassador, and gave information to Liberman without lawful
Liberman, the indictment continued, was not authorized to
receive that information, especially in the light of his status as the suspect
about which the Israeli authorities had filed a case.
The indictment also
noted that Ben- Aryeh notified Liberman about the Israeli police’s application,
knowing it was confidential, and that his actions had been intended to obstruct
the criminal investigation into Liberman.
According to that plea bargain,
Ben- Aryeh agreed to plead guilty to charges of disclosure in breach of duty and
obstruction of justice. The parties agreed to ask for a sentence of four to six
months of community service and a probationary sentence to be determined by the
Meanwhile, the attorney-general announced late Monday night that a
decision in the probe into the foreign minister is expected “within
Weinstein informed Liberman in April last year that he planned to
indict him – pending a hearing – on charges of fraud, breach of trust,
fraudulent receipt, money laundering and witness harassment.
suspected of receiving millions of dollars from private business people, through
straw companies, between the years 2001 and 2008, while he was a member of
Knesset and a cabinet minister.
In a written response to a query by the
Movement for Quality Government, Weinstein said that following hearings in
January and February, his office expected to receive written arguments on a
number of issues from Liberman’s defense team.
After those written
arguments are received, Weinstein said his office would make a decision within
If Liberman is indicted, he will be forced to resign as a
minister. However, if he reaches a plea bargain with the state, he may be able
to resign for a single term, potentially making him eligible to serve as a
minister in the future.
Regarding reports of an early election, Weinstein
referred to guidelines set down in Directive 1.1913 of the attorney- general’s
office on the issue of prosecutions prior to elections, and said that Liberman’s
case will be conducted as per usual.
Later on Tuesday, civil rights NGO
the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel called on the attorney-general to clarify
the procedures for filing indictments against elected officials before a general
In a letter to Weinstein, Legal Forum director attorney Nachi
Eyal said that given Liberman’s case has been pending for years, any decision to
indict him before an election would be “very odd timing.”
“If this were a
one-off event, we would not have turned to you,” Eyal wrote, adding that two
weeks before the previous elections, Liberman’s associates were questioned
regarding the suspicions against him.
“This situation apparently
indicates that there is an increased motivation to promote procedures and make
crucial decisions in matters relating to politicians in general and to Minister
Liberman in particular, just before the election,” Eyal said.