(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Justice Ministry is expected to close the main case against Foreign Minister
Avigdor Liberman on Thursday afternoon, while indicting him for breach of public
trust in a separate 2008 case involving obstruction of justice by former
ambassador to Belarus Ze’ev Ben-Aryeh.
The ministry confirmed the timing
of the decision.
The decision would be a fateful one for a case that goes
back years, and could also move toward lifting a cloud from one of the most
powerful politicians in Israel and end speculation of any premature end to
Liberman’s career. Liberman has maintained his innocence on all matters
According to an earlier draft indictment in the main case,
Liberman is 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.
The foreign minister has
already undergone an unusual three pre-indictment hearing with the state attorney, and many times Attorney- General Yehuda
Weinstein has said he would decide whether to submit an indictment against
But on November 8, the State Attorney’s Office responded to a
petition to the High Court of Justice demanding a decision on the case, stating
that Weinstein would decide within about a month and before the January 22
Since then, speculation has been rampant in the media about
what would happen and whether the coalition would fall if Liberman was indicted
in the main case.
Liberman is not fully out of the woods even if the main
case is dropped, if he gets indicted for breach of public trust in the Ben-Aryeh
There are scenarios where Liberman might still need to resign as
Ben-Aryeh was convicted last May of showing Liberman
investigative material in 1998 against Liberman that Ben-Aryeh received in his
capacity as an ambassador.
Liberman could still have problems if he is
convicted and if there is a finding of moral turpitude, but most cases with
findings of moral turpitude have involved much more severe charges than breach
of public trust.
If Liberman did have to resign, but there was no
eventual finding of moral turpitude, there would likely be no legal bar to him
coming back as a minister.