Israel: Former Foreign Minister Cleared of Corruption
Former Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman was cleared of corruption charges on Wednesday and will return to his duties as a part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet, the BBC reports.
The 55-year-old Lieberman stepped down as foreign minister while facing charges of fraud and breach of trust. Netanyahu served as interim foreign minister following Lieberman's resignation in December 2012. Lieberman continued to serve in parliament during the trial.
Lieberman's reappointment, which must be approved by the cabinet and parliament, may happen as early as Monday.
According to The Washington Post, Lieberman was accused of "improperly promoting a former diplomat as Israel’s ambassador to Latvia," and that "Prosecutors alleged that the former diplomat had fed Lieberman insider information about a separate money-laundering investigation — since dropped — of his business dealings." Lieberman denied the charge throughout the trial.
Lieberman, the leader of the Yisrael Beitenu party, has often been an ally to Netanyahu, with whose political party Yisrael Beitenu merged to form a coalition government.
Sheely Yachimovich, head of the opposition Labor Party, spoke out against Lieberman returning to politics, saying he has "damaged Israel."
Lieberman is expected to return to government while Israel is dealing with several international relations issues, including renewed talks between the West and Iran, a United States push on the Arab-Israeli conflict, and discussions with Turkey.
While a guilty conviction would have ended Lieberman's political career, Israeli newspaper Haaretz has begun speculation that Lieberman's triumphant return to politics may include a run for Prime Minister.