(Carl)If Lieberman insists on going to trial, he will not be finished in time to be appointed to a ministerial position in the next Knesset. If he cops a plea, he will not get the exoneration he seeks.(jpost.com) Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman resigned on Sunday from his positions as foreign minister and deputy prime minister on Sunday, due to the pending indictment against him for fraud and breach of public trust. The resignation will take effect on Tuesday at 10 a.m.
If the public gets its wishes, the next government will be formed by Likud-Beiteinu, Labor and Jewish Home. Labor claims they won't go into a government with someone under indictment (kind of ironic, given that Labor was by far the most corrupt party until Ehud K. Olmert came along). If that holds, look for Labor's place in the next government to be taken by the Haredi parties. In fact, even if it doesn't hold, I cannot see Labor going into the government because government that includes both the Likud and Jewish Home will not sufficiently support the 'peace process' for Labor's tastes.
A mentch tracht un Got Maft (people think and God does)....
"I am leaving temporarily. I assume this will be as short as possible," he said, after what he described as four fascinating years in the foreign ministry.Regarding media reports, including that he resigned and was seeking a plea bargain following consultations with his pollster Arthur Finklestein, Liberman said, "I really hope it [legal proceedings] will be fast. I read in the papers what I didn't do and what I didn't say…there's no intent for a plea bargain, rather to go to court. I'm not disqualifying any options, but first to go to court, that is the right and correct path."
Analysis: Liberman's not going anywhere
Analysis: Liberman's not going anywhere
He continued that, "200% I didn't talk with Finklestein about resigning and not about the legal proceedings."
Upon his announcement of his intent to resign on Friday, media reports - including a source close to Liberman who spoke to The Jerusalem Post - surfaced saying that his lawyers claimed that they and state attorney lawyers would arrive at a quick plea bargain which would allow him to jump right into a job as a minister in the new government.
The Ministry of Justice on the other hand, made no mention of any contacts toward a plea bargain. Appearing ready to move forward with the case, the ministry noted only that, "the indictment is ready to be filed. To the extent that the defense requests that the court to speed up the case, the state attorney's office will consent to the request."
Pressed over whether if it would be possible to complete the trial in only a few months, a scenario which could, in the best case scenario for Liberman, allow him to jump back into the government as a minister when the new government is formed, the justice ministry spokesman refused to commit to any timeline.
The timeline "depends on the court's decisions," said the spokesman.
It is not impossible, but it is hard to imagine a trial moving at such breakneck speed. The first corruption trial of former prime minister Ehud Olmert, for example, took around four years.
No one expects Liberman's case to take as long as the facts are simpler, there are far fewer documents to gather and connect for the case and much of the background for the case (obviously not the legal conclusions about Liberman) has been effectively proven in the conviction of former Ambassador Zeev Ben-Aryeh, at the center of the case.
Still, the prosecution will need to call witnesses from the foreign ministry regarding Ben-Aryeh's promotions and it is unclear how long that will take and if the process can be concluded in only a few months.
Legally, if there is no plea bargain and no conclusion to the trial before the next government is formed, Liberman might be able to still become a minister, but only if neither the High Court of Justice nor the Attorney-General disqualify him.
Regarding his emotional state and concerns, Liberman stated that he was, "Not worried personally, I only worry for the voters," referencing what he said were 400,000 people who voted for Yisrael Beyteun in the last election.
He added that the "cup is half full, with more time to work on the campaign" and finished with same phrase he used hours before it was announced that he would be indicted - "everything is the garden of eden" (everything is fine).
Likud officials said that they wont hide Liberman in the campaign and that he will play a central role. They added that they appreciated his resignation because it enables the election to return to key diplomatic and security issues rather than focusing on Liberman.
Liberman announced Friday that he would be stepping down, hours after Meretz filed a petition asking the High Court of Justice to order his resignation.
In a statement published by his office, Liberman said his legal counsel advised him he did not have to resign. Nonetheless, he said he would do so in order to fight the charges against him, thereby enabling him to serve in the next government if exonerated. Liberman has denied all wrongdoing and called for expedited legal proceedings.
To this end, Liberman said he would immediately drop his parliamentary immunity, “so that after 16 years during which investigations have been carried out against me, I can conclude this matter quickly, without delay and clear my name.
“I am also doing this because I am convinced Israeli citizens have the right to go to the polls with this matter already having been decided,” he said, in the hope the legal proceedings against him are concluded before the January 22 election.
Liberman added that he hopes he will be able to continue serving Israel “as part of a strong and united leadership in order to face the security, diplomatic and economic challenges that the State of Israel is facing.”
The prime minister spoke with Liberman on Friday afternoon ahead of his resignation announcement, telling the foreign minister that he hopes he will “prove his innocence as quickly as possible” and quickly return to a senior position in the government.
A source in the Prime Minister’s Office said Netanyahu would retain the title of foreign minister until the next government is formed, dispelling rumors that a Likud minister such as Vice Premier Silvan Shalom or Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor would be given the post.
According to Israeli constitutional processes, when a minister resigns, his deputy automatically resigns with him.
Netanyahu and Liberman both want Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon to remain in his post, so Netanyahu is expected to ask the Knesset to approve Ayalon’s reappointment.
Liberman’s decision follows Weinstein’s surprise announcement on Thursday that he will charge the foreign minister not only with breach of trust, but also with fraud, in a 2008 case involving obstruction of justice by former ambassador to Belarus Ze’ev Ben- Aryeh.
It was widely predicted that Liberman would be charged with breach of trust for allegedly not revealing that Ben- Aryeh leaked information to him regarding a separate investigation against him when he visited the ambassador in Belarus in 2008. But the charge that by allegedly helping Ben-Aryeh advance to two additional positions in the Foreign Ministry as “payment” for Ben-Aryeh’s leaking classified information to Liberman, he had committed fraud, came as a surprise.
At the same time, Weinstein decided to close the “main” case against Liberman, regarding wider and more serious allegations of money-laundering millions of dollars, fraud and other allegations from 2001 to 2008.
Weinstein took the first step in the indictment process on Thursday when he sent the indictment text to Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, asking him to remove Liberman’s parliamentary immunity so the indictment could be filed in court. But Liberman’s announcement that he was waiving his immunity preempted Rivlin and the Knesset taking action, which could have been put off by up to 30 days.
Reacting to Liberman’s resignation, a Meretz spokesman said the party would withdraw the petition once he actually handed in his resignation or upon a decision by the court, whichever came first.
Leaders from the Center-Left praised Liberman’s decision to resign.
Labor Party chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich welcomed Liberman’s move, saying the indictment had “severely undermined the rule of law and the public’s trust in its elected leadership and democracy.” She said that “he who is indicted cannot serve even one day as a public emissary.”
The Labor leader said she would not sit in a government in which anyone under indictment served, and called on the heads of all political parties to boycott any such cabinet.
The No. 2 candidate on The Tzipi Livni Party’s electoral list, Amram Mitzna, called Weinstein’s ruling the most severe condemnation of an Israeli public figure ever. He urged the public to read it to understand who the No. 2 man in the Likud Beytenu joint list really was.
“The public should ask itself if it wants a government with Liberman after this lethal indictment,” Mitzna said. “Public figures who want to lead must be clean beyond all doubt. If he remains a Knesset candidate, I hope it makes Likud Beytenu supporters rethink their votes.”
Gil Hoffman, Charles Bybelezer, Michael Omer-Man, Ben Hartman contributed to this story.