avigdor lieberman growling.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Avigdor Lieberman would give up all three of his posts as foreign minister, Israel Beiteinu chairman and MK in the wake of an indictment on corruption charges, expected in the coming months, he said during a press conference at the Knesset Monday.
But a defiant Lieberman said he was certain he would be found innocent and would return to all three positions even stronger. He said he slept soundly after the police announced their recommendation to indict him on Sunday, and that his conscience was clear.
"I'm happy that after great efforts and an appeal to the High Court of Justice, the investigation has reached its conclusion, and I hope the State Attorney's Office will supply a swift answer," Lieberman said.
"I reviewed everything I said in the questioning sessions, and I am at peace with all of my actions," he said. "If I had the opportunity to do things over again, I would do the same."
Lieberman said he would resign from the cabinet immediately following an indictment, and that three to five months afterward he would quit as party chairman and MK.
"My prediction is that in another year or two I will [again] be party chairman and foreign minister, and in the next elections [we will achieve our goal of] winning 20 mandates," he said.
Speculation about Lieberman's potential replacements continued in the Knesset on Monday. While Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon is expected to replace him in the Ministry, the question of who would serve as interim party head is wide open, with MKs Stas Meseznikov and Faina Kirschenbaum seen as candidates.
When Lieberman's no. 2 in Israel Beiteinu, National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau, was asked if no. 2 might replace no. 1, he said, "No. 1 hasn't gone anywhere yet."
Earlier on Monday, Kadima head Tzipi Livni slammed Lieberman for his accusation on Sunday that the police were politically motivated in recommending a variety of charges against him, while criticizing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for not taking an active stance on the issue.
"I always insisted on separation of powers and did not comment on the investigations," Livni said. "Lieberman has a right to fight for his innocence. But he cannot say the police are guided by political considerations and interests."
"Everyone must support the police, especially the public security minister, as Avi Dichter did when he was in the post. The prime minister must support the law enforcement authorities, too. But the prime minister has been silent because he prefers political considerations. And that's because he lacks a moral compass. When everyone else is silent, someone has to talk and support law enforcement authorities, and we in Kadima will do that," she added.
Public Security Minister and Israel Beiteinu MK Yitzhak Aharonovitch swiftly responded to Livni's charges and reiterated his ongoing support of the police.
"I support the police and the investigation team [that probed Lieberman]," the former deputy police chief told reporters at the Knesset. "As the minister in charge of the police, I support the police and the investigation team, who are doing their work well and professionally. Livni, who sat in a government while members of her party were being investigated, should be the last person to rebuke anyone."
Labor chairman Ehud Barak also reacted to Livni's criticism of the government, denouncing what he called her "hypocritical demagoguery." He said she was silent when the leaders of her party were under investigation and she never would have taken over Kadima had Barak not forced out former prime minister Ehud Olmert.
Jonah Mandel contributed to this report