Lieberman, Echoing Shamir, Hints at End to Politics if Convicted
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Lieberman, hinted Monday morning in an interview with IDF Radio that if he is convicted of corruption charges, he will not stay in politics, but added that he is confident that he will beat the charges brought against him.
The former Foreign Minister agreed with recent remarks made by Yair Shamir, the number four candidate on Likud-Beytenu's list, who said, "A public official who falters while in public service must make way for those who have not. Whether the offense carries the designation of ‘moral turpitude’ or not is irrelevant."
Lieberman for the first time responded to comments made by Shamir, who is Lieberman's number two, by basically agreeing with everything he said, perhaps setting the stage for an end to his own political career. "I agree with him. I think there should be clear norms," Lieberman said in an interview on "Good Morning Israel" on IDF Radio. "I have no problem with this statement and without a doubt, Shamir will be in a senior position in the Likud-Beytenu government."
However, Lieberman did express the absolute confidence that he would be acquitted, basing this on his feelings and on his familiarity with the evidence against him.
"I guess if someone brought about disgrace, a person has to draw conclusions. Because I know the facts very well, I have no doubt that in the process I will come out innocent," Lieberman said.
He added that if he could not serve as foreign minister until the end of the trial, he would like to be involved in diplomatic and defense decisions in some capacity, perhaps as chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
Lieberman also rejected claims that the ballot merger with Likud was a failure.
Lieberman said he expects Likud-Beytenu to win more than 40 seats, despite what current polls predict. "I stopped taking surveys seriously," he said. "My feeling is that polls have turned into part of a campaign and the media has morphed from those who cover elections to an active part of them."
Lieberman resigned as foreign minister last month, shortly before he was indicted for allegedly illegally helping former ambassador to Belarus, Ze’ev Ben Aryeh, secure a diplomatic appointment. Lieberman allegedly rewarded Ben Aryeh with the appointment for having given him confidential documents regarding a long-running investigation into alleged business misdealings on the part of Lieberman, an investigation that was eventually closed. Ben Aryeh pleaded guilty last year to handing over the documents.
If Liberman is found guilty, and if the crime is deemed to constitute moral turpitude, he would be ineligible to serve as a Knesset member for seven years.