Israel Beiteinu can get police ministry

A-G: Lieberman's party holding ministry while chief investigated is "public and political, not legal" issue.

March 30, 2009 12:43
1 minute read.
Israel Beiteinu can get police ministry

mazuz 248.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])

There is no legal ground to bar Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman from serving as foreign minister in Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu's new government, despite an ongoing police investigation against him, Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz informed the High Court of Justice on Monday. Mazuz explained that the issue at hand was a public and not a legal one. The legal opinion proffered by the country's top law enforcement official was made in response to a petition to Israel's highest court by a government watchdog group against Lieberman's appointment due to the criminal investigation against him. "The petition focuses on issues regarding the political and public spheres, not the legal one," the state's response read. ""When a man who is being criminally investigated by the police serves as a senior minister it raises some weighty questions, but these are not for the court to rule on, but rather a matter for the public to decide on." Mazuz added that while the ongoing police investigation against Lieberman was in its final stages, it was still too early to say whether the leader of Israel's third largest party would be indicted. Lieberman, who is facing suspicions of bribery, breach of trust, money laundering and falsifying corporate documents, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the case. The High Court petition was filed by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel. The watchdog group argued that appointing Lieberman to the foreign minister's post would violate public interest and would severely harm the public's faith in the government. On a second appeal, the attorney-general also opined that were "no legal grounds" to prevent a party official from serving as public security minister despite a "shadow" of conflict of interest. "Even if there is a distant conflict of interest, that is not to say that there is any legal reason to prevent a party member from serving as public security minister," Mazuz argued. He added that the petition to prevent the appointment is an "exaggeration" and could turn Israel Beiteinu, which garnered 15 Knesset seats in the elections, into a "disabled" party.

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