Former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman pledged Monday to quit politics altogether should he be found guilty in his upcoming political corruption trial in the Belarus Ambassador Affair. Liberman stepped down as foreign minister last month, when charges were brought.
Liberman was responding to comments from Yair Shamir, the number four candidate on his Yisrael Beytenu party's joint list with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud. Shamir said two weeks ago that, “any public figure who stumbles should give up his place to one who hasn’t. If Liberman is convicted, that should apply to him also.”
“I agree with him,” the Yisrael Beiteinu leader told Army Radio on Monday. “I think that there have to be clear norms. I have no problems with what was said [by Shamir] and Shamir will without any doubt have a senior role in the Likud Beytenu government.”
Liberman is accused of failing to report former Israeli ambassador to
Belarus Ze’ev Ben-Aryeh for leaking information to him regarding a
money-laundering investigation against him, and that he had in return
helped Ben-Aryeh gain promotion in the Foreign Ministry.
The former foreign minister's trial is not expected to begin before elections
take place later this month. While Liberman resigned as a minister, he remains the head of his party and is expected to seek chairmanship of the prestigious Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee until the end of legal proceedings against him.
At the time of his resignation, he made several hard public pushes to wrap up the trial before elections so he could run and return to being a minister without any cloud hanging over him.
Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.