Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman handed in his resignation at the weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday morning and declared “I am leaving temporarily.”
Lieberman declares that he has broken no laws, and that his resignation allows him more time to campaign for the January 2013 elections (Photo: Beytenu.org)
On Friday Lieberman announced he has decided to resign from office following the breach of trust indictment pending against him. The case alleges misconduct concerning a diplomatic appointment, and Lieberman said wants a quick trial prior to the January 22 elections. His resignation will go into effect on Tuesday.
"As you know I have no concerns," Lieberman said after submitting his resignation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli analysts claim that he apparently counts on a swift trial and subsequent plea bargain which will not involve moral turpitude or community service, thus allowing him to return to politics. However, Lieberman himself has rejected the idea of a plea bargain.
He stressed his intentions to return to office and added “the only concern I have is for the voting public." Lieberman noted that 400,000 people voted for his Yisrael Beitenu party in the last elections. The party has now merged with the Likud, and Lieberman said he is looking at his resignation as "a half-full glass" because it will give him more time to be active in the election campaign.
It took 16 years for prosecutors and police to make a final decision on Lieberman’s complex corruption cases. Last week the attorney general announced the decision, and the two major cases of alleged corruption were closed because prosecutors do not believe there is sufficient material to ensure conviction. The prosecution did decide, however, to indict Lieberman for allegedly trying to win the appointment of Ze’ev Ben Aryeh as ambassador to Belarus after Ben Aryeh sent Lieberman classified documents concerning a criminal probe against the Foreign Minister. Ben Aryeh eventually was not appointed ambassador.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will become the foreign minister after Lieberman's resignation takes effect in two days, and Deputy Minister Danny Ayalon will be re-appointed. By law, a deputy minister must also leave his post when a minister resigns but apparently, Netanyahu will re-appoint Ayalon, making him the de-facto foreign affairs minister. Ayalon, who is known for his undiplomatic behaviour, has been dropped from the Israel Beitenu list and will not be in the next Knesset.
Lieberman’s resignation also means he will be dropped from the important “Inner Cabinet," which discusses and decides security matters.