Cabinet okays Liberman to return as foreign minister

Knesset to vote Monday on appointment of Yisrael Beytenu leader; A-G rejects call from NGO to block Liberman from returning to post.

Avigdor Liberman 370 (photo credit: reuters)
Avigdor Liberman 370
(photo credit: reuters)
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman will be sworn in as foreign minister on Monday, a position he gave up when he was charged with fraud and breach of trust last December.
The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday cleared him of the charges in the so-called Belarus Ambassador Affair, paving the way for him to return to the Foreign Ministry.
Liberman served as foreign minister from April 2009 to the end of 2012.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been serving as foreign minister for the past 10 months and appointed Likud MK Ze’ev Elkin as his deputy in the ministry.
Elkin’s tenure will end automatically when Netanyahu is no longer foreign minister.
It is unclear whether Elkin will be asked to stay on. He is considered a leading contender to replace Liberman in the influential post as chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
Other Likud candidates for Liberman’s committee position are MK Tzachi Hanegbi, coalition chairman Yariv Levin and Deputy Minister for Liaison with the Knesset Ophir Akunis. Yesh Atid is pushing faction chairman Ofer Shelah as a contender for committee chairman in exchange for the party not opposing the addition of another minister (Liberman) to the cabinet.
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein on Sunday rejected the call to block Liberman’s return to the post of foreign minister from OMETZ – The Movement for the Quality of Government in Israel.
Although Liberman was acquitted on Wednesday of all criminal charges in the breach of public trust and fraud case against him, the court criticized his actions as unethical and improper.
OMETZ had asked that Weinstein bar Liberman from being a minister on the basis of the court’s finding.
The attorney-general said that while the public could judge Liberman for actions that might have been unethical, his acquittal had lifted any legal bar to him being a cabinet minister.
MK Esawi Frej (Meretz) expressed his objection to Liberman’s nomination on Sunday, saying that he is like “a bull in a china shop, but the china being broke is Israel’s international standing.
“There is no doubt that Netanyahu’s shouting [about Iran] was not fruitful, and we can see that if we want to deepen Israel’s isolation and irrelevance in discussions of international importance, all we have to do is bring Liberman back to his job,” Frej said.