Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Friday afternoon, shortly after Lieberman announced he was resigning from his post because of an upcoming indictment against him.
According to a Channel 2 News report, Netanyahu told Lieberman he hoped that Lieberman will soon be able to return to a senior governmental role. Netanyahu was quoted as having said, "I wish for Lieberman to prove his innocence soon about the only issue left on the table.”
Earlier on Friday, Lieberman surprisingly announced 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," said Lieberman.
"I am doing this because I believe that the citizens of Israel are entitled to go to the polls after it's already been decided, i.e. that a legal decision will be made before the elections, so that I can continue to serve the State of Israel and Israeli citizens as part of a strong and unified leadership that can deal with the security, political and economic threats facing the State of Israel," said Lieberman.
Despite his resignation, Lieberman will still run in the Knesset elections as number 2 on the Likud Beytenu list, hoping he will clear his name by the time the elections come to an end.
His resignation was welcomed by opposition parties on Friday. Meretz chairwoman MK Zahava Galon, who had earlier appealed to the Supreme Court asking that it force Lieberman to resign, said, “I welcome Lieberman’s resignation as well as the fact that he did not wait for the decision of the Supreme Court that would have forced him to resign due to the indictment against him. By doing this he saved himself from disgrace and shame."
Labor chairwoman Shelly Yechimovich also welcomed Lieberman’s move, saying, "Whoever has been indicted cannot continue to serve even for one day as a public servant. Lieberman severely hurt the rule of law and undermined public confidence, those who elected him and democracy.”
Tzipi Livni’s Hatenua party said that “Avigdor Lieberman did the right and required thing, and we hope he receives a quick legal process.”
MK Dov Khenin of the Hadash party said that "in a self-respecting democracy - such a person cannot serve in a central role. The public must make its voice heard at the ballot box and reject this man and his partners.”
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.
Originally, Lieberman 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.
(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.)