Israel`s FM says will quit if indicted

Last Updated: Monday, August 3, 2009 - 15:49

Jerusalem: Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Monday he would quit if Israel`s Attorney General adopted a police recommendation to indict him on corruption charges.
Lieberman, who has denied any wrongdoing, heads the ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party that has drawn allegations of racism from Israel`s Arab citizens.

"As far as I am concerned the watershed will be the final decision by the attorney-general following a hearing," he said in broadcast remarks.

"If after the hearing, the Attorney General decides to press charges, undoubtedly at that moment I will resign."

After a nine-year-long investigation, police recommended on Sunday that Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz indict Lieberman on several charges, including bribery, money laundering and obstruction of justice.

The investigation was conducted mostly while Lieberman held other government posts. It focused on the transfer of millions of Israeli shekels to shell companies and accounts belonging to people close to him, a police statement said.

Legal expert Moshe Negbi estimated the process leading up to a decision by Mazuz could take up to several months. Mazuz is due to complete his term as attorney-general by the end of the year.

"If you ask me, my estimation is that next year and in two years` time I will remain as the chairman of the party and as Foreign Minister," Lieberman said.

Lieberman is the latest in a line of Israeli public figures to face police questioning. Mazuz is weighing criminal charges against former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in two corruption investigations.

Olmert, who has said he did nothing wrong, resigned last September over the scandals but stayed in office as caretaker prime minister until Benjamin Netanyahu assumed the post in March following an election in February.

Bureau Report



First Published: Monday, August 3, 2009 - 15:49

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