Political and judicial drama: the Magistrate judges in Jerusalem voted unanimously to acquit the former Foreign Minister in the Ambassador Zeev Ben Aryeh affair. The head of the Israel Beytenu party will be able to return to government

Lieberman, today

Lieberman, today Photography: Tzachi Cohen

Drama in court: after 17 years of hearings and investigations, the Magistrate Court judges in Jerusalem decided to acquit former Foreign Minister and head of the Israel Beytenu party, Avigdor Lieberman, of the fraud and breach of trust counts against him in the ambassador Zeev Ben Aryeh affair. The chairman of Israel-Beytenu will now be able to return to the foreign ministry. “17 years have ended” Lieberman said after the verdict: “It’s behind me”.

In the verdict the judges addressed the indictments, according to which Lieberman appointed Zeev Ben Aryeh as Israeli ambassador in Latvia, after Ben Aryeh gave him information about an investigation he was about to be the subject of.

“It was not proven that the defendant received the information in office and that the appointment was more than a promotion for Ben Aryeh” the judges wrote in their ruling. “There isn’t as severe a conflict of interest as the State Attorney argued. Ben Aryeh was worthy of the role. The appointment fit with his abilities”. However, the judges ruled that Lieberman “acted improperly in a manner that brought the matter to the Ministers Committee – but it was not criminal”.

Lieberman in court this morning

Lieberman in court this morning Photography: Oren Nachshon

Lieberman: “Thank you to all who believed in the justice”

It was further noted that former Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon’s account of the events in his testimony against Lieberman “was not uniform on the different subject that are at the core of the dispute, and was not supported by witnesses Gal and Rodez”. The connection between Ayalon’s removal from the Israel-Beytenu list and the date Ayalon went to the police and media to voice his criticism of Lieberman, was not taken off the table by the judges.

 “I want to thank my family and friends who stood beside all those 17 years, believing in the justice and giving their support” Lieberman said after the verdict. He thanked his defense team and said that he does not intend to discuss the issue anymore. “This affair is behind me and I am focused on the challenges ahead – and we have enough of those”.