Israel FM Lieberman resigns

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Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has announced his intent to resign a day after he was indicted for fraud and breach of trust, though he’s still expected to stand in Israeli Knesset elections next month, the BBC reports:

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has resigned after being charged with fraud and breach of trust following a long-running investigation.

Mr Lieberman has also resigned as deputy prime minister, and said he would fight to clear his name of the charges. … His resignation comes five weeks before Israel’s general election.

Lieberman,  the leader of Israel’s right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, had said Thursday that he did not intend to resign, but would make a decision after consulting with his attorneys.

Israel’s Attorney General announced Thursday that he was dropping major money laundering and obstruction of justice charges against Lieberman following a 12-year probe, but was pursuing an indictment on fraud and breach of trust. Prosecutors are investigating whether Lieberman sought to promote Israel’s former envoy to Belarus after the latter allegedly helped him obtain classified Justice Ministry documents concerning his case.

“It was unclear if he would still stand in the January 22 general election, although Israeli newspapers have suggested he might be forced to sit on the sidelines as the judicial case moved ahead,” Reuters reported.

(Photo: Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman speaks at a conference for young members of his Yisrael Beiteinu party in Tel Aviv December 13, 2012. Lieberman said on Thursday he need not resign after the Justice Ministry decided to indict him for fraud and breach of trust, less severe charges than were originally considered. REUTERS/Amir Cohen.)