Israel PM says Lieberman 'returning to government'
JERUSALEM - Reuters
Former Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, (C) steps out of a car as he arrives to hear the verdict in the corruption charges against him at the Magistrate Court in Jerusalem November 6, 2013. REUTERS photoIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday welcomed the acquittal of Avigdor Lieberman on corruption charges and hailed his anticipated return to government as foreign minister.
"I congratulate you on your unanimous acquittal and am happy about your returning to the government so that we can continue working together for the good of Israel," Netanyahu said in a statement.
An Israeli court on Wednesday acquitted former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman on charges of fraud and breach of trust, public radio reported.
The head of the hardline nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party, who resigned from the foreign ministry in December 2012, can return to his cabinet post immediately, as long as the attorney general does not file an appeal.
Lieberman was unanimously acquitted by a panel of three judges at Jerusalem Magistrates Court in a hearing which lasted just a few minutes, the radio said. The stocky 55-year-old former nightclub bouncer was accused of rewarding Israeli diplomat Zeev Ben Aryeh with an embassy posting in Latvia after he tipped him off about a police probe into his affairs.
"I want to thank the court," a jubilant Lieberman said after the hearing.
"After 17 years (of investigations), it is behind me... I am putting this matter behind me and I look forward to the challenges ahead." Despite his resignation from the cabinet, he remained a member of parliament and leader of Yisrael Beitenu. He also holds the prestigious position of chairman of the high-profile parliamentary committee on foreign affairs and defence.