Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced on Friday afternoon that he would be resigning from his position, a day after the Attorney General decided to indict him on charges of fraud and breach of trust.
"Although I know I have not violated any laws, out of a desire that after so many years of legal proceedings, investigations and wiretaps against me I can also put the matter that remains behind me, I decided to resign from my position as Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and as I announced yesterday also to give up my parliamentary immunities effective immediately," he added.
On Thursday, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said that Lieberman would be charged with fraud and breach of trust in the 2009 case involving the former ambassador to Belarus. At the same time he dropped more serious allegations against him.
"I decided to proceed with a case against Lieberman for having suggested in December 2009 that the government name the former ambassador to Belarus to a post in another country, despite the fact that -- according to the evidence presented -- he knew that he had done wrong in passing along secret information, including details of a police enquiry against Lieberman," Weinstein said.
The decision closes a case that included explosive allegations of fraud, money-laundering and witness tampering. Lieberman had always proclaimed his innocence of all the allegations against him.
Lieberman later rejected calls on him to resign, saying he has been the target of suspicion and questioning for a long time now. He added that he hopes the matter will be settled as soon as possible.
"In 2008 I was in the opposition and I lead a delegation to the Minsk ghetto. On the visit, the ambassador wanted to see me. I went to the hotel and he handed me an envelope. I looked at it, read it and told him to let go of this nonsense. I threw the envelope into the toilet," Lieberman said.
"If I have to I will pay the price in pride...I want the court to decide as quickly as possible," he said, hinting that that he had no intention of resigning and wanted to focus instead on the upcoming elections.
Meretz chairwoman MK Zehava Galon declared on Thursday that she intends to appeal to the Supreme Court and demand that Lieberman be forced to resign because of the impending indictment against him.
"Lieberman is the Houdini of corruption, and while he has indeed escaped the more severe indictment over dark financial transactions and shady connections, he will not be able to continue serving as a government minister," said Galon.
She added, "The only opinion on which I rely is that of the Supreme Court, which states that if an indictment is filed for an offense involving moral turpitude against a minister or deputy minister, the Prime Minister's duty is to remove him from office. Therefore, I will appeal to the Supreme Court tomorrow morning.”
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)