Jewish Journal

Israel’s Lieberman questioned by police

by Brad A. Greenberg

April 2, 2009 | 5:53 pm

Only in Israel would a political leader be sworn into office one day and questioned by police as part of an investigation into bribery and money laundering the next. So was the case for Avigdor Lieberman, the new foreign minister, today. From a The New York Times article that also discusses that ax murder in the West Bank:

Mr. Lieberman caused an uproar on Wednesday, his first day as foreign minister, declaring in a blunt speech that Israel was not obligated to continue an American-backed peace effort with the Palestinians, started at a conference in Annapolis, Md., in late 2007.

The police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, said the interrogation did not come as a surprise, but was coordinated with the incoming minister several days in advance.

Mr. Lieberman is part of the new government led by Benjamin Netanyahu and his conservative Likud Party, which was sworn in late Tuesday. Mr. Lieberman leads the hawkish Yisrael Beiteinu party, an important partner in the governing coalition and the third largest party in Parliament.

Critics of Mr. Lieberman were outraged at the outcome of the recent coalition negotiations that put his Yisrael Beiteinu party in charge of the Ministry of Public Security, which is responsible for the police.

The new public security minister, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, is highly regarded as a former deputy commissioner of the national police. Nevertheless, police officials expressed surprise when Mr. Lieberman, the party chief, took the unusual step of turning up at Mr. Aharonovitch’s inauguration ceremony on Wednesday.

The police have been investigating Mr. Lieberman’s business dealings for 13 years, but he has never been charged. He has frequently railed against the police, accusing them of persecution.

Mr. Aharonovitch said Thursday that he had no intention of intervening in the investigations of public figures. Mr. Lieberman’s office said that he fully cooperated with the police investigators. The police spokesman said that the investigation is continuing, and that Mr. Lieberman would be questioned again.

Here is a link to a story about Lieberman’s comments Wednesday about Israel’s peace policy. After the jump, a critical ad from JStreet:

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