Ex-Israeli foreign minister cleared of corruption charges

Wednesday 06 November 2013 22.25
Avigdor Lieberman said: 'This chapter is now behind me'
Avigdor Lieberman said: 'This chapter is now behind me'

Former Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman has been acquitted of corruption charges, a verdict that paves the way for him to return to the post.

Mr Lieberman's ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party is allied with the right-wing Likud party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Netanyahu kept open the foreign ministry portfolio for Mr Lieberman while the trial was under way.

A Jerusalem court decided unanimously to acquit Mr Lieberman.

He had been charged with fraud and breach of trust over allegations he gave an Israeli diplomat an ambassador's post in exchange for a tip-off about a police probe into his affairs.

"This chapter is now behind me," Mr Lieberman told reporters in brief remarks outside the courthouse.

Prosecutors said they were weighing whether to appeal.

Mr Lieberman has been outspokenly sceptical of US-backed peace talks with the Palestinians, saying that he thought any permanent deal "impossible".

The talks resumed in July after a three-year impasse.

Mr Lieberman's party has grown into one of Israel's largest political forces on the strength of votes from his fellow immigrants from former Soviet republics.

He is the latest in a string of Israeli politicians to have faced corruption charges in the past few years.

Ehud Olmert resigned as prime minister in 2008 after being indicted.

He has since been acquitted of most of the charges against him.