Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu released a public statement to the media today (Wednesday) congratulating former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beytenu) on his acquittal from fraud allegations.
"I congratulate Avigdor Lieberman on his unanimous acquittal," Netanyahu said. "This ends a long, drawn out affair, not only for Avigdor Lieberman but for his family as well. We have been friends for many years and have worked together in government for many years and I am pleased that Avigdor will be coming back to work with me at the Cabinet table."
Regarding cries for a state-backed appeal, and for the Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to be relieved of his post, the Prime Minister affirmed that both the legal system and the Attorney General "are doing excellent and dedicated work" and that "in the end it is the courts that decide."
Netanyahu continued, in an effort to calm the raging controversy, by declaring that "how awful it would be if we had a society in which every indictment ended in conviction [. . .] for the strength of Israeli democracy, we must all continue to respect the judicial and law enforcement systems."
Lieberman has been the subject of legal investigation for over 17 years, and was on trial for fraud and breach of trust in the matter of the appointment of Ze'ev Ben Aryeh as ambassador to Latvia. The ambassador testified that he had transferred secret information to Lieberman, regarding an investigation against him in another matter, which some claimed should have been reported immediately to law enforcement officials.
At around 9:00AM today, the court found that Lieberman was not aware of the serious nature of this transfer of information; while he should have reported it, the final verdict was that failure to do so did not constitute a criminal act.
The acquittal brought tremendous relief to Lieberman, whose political career has been overshadowed somewhat by the allegations against him. The former FM celebrated today by visiting the Western Wall.
The Palestinian Authority, in comparison, was significantly less pleased, claiming that the move was a sign that peace talks mediated by US Secretary General John Kerry were doomed to fail.