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Lieberman Acquittal: The Day After

Arutz Sheva analyst discusses how pride, money played into court case. Lieberman faces hard struggle to restore his ministry.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 11/7/2013, 11:54 AM

Avigdor Lieberman, leaving court Sunday
Avigdor Lieberman, leaving court Sunday
Flash90

On Wednesday, a three-judge panel unanimously acquitted former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of charges of fraud and breach of trust.

While state prosecutors may appeal, any appeal is highly unlikely to succeed, according to Arutz Sheva’s Shlomo Pyoterkovsky.

“Whoever opened ‘Haaretz’ this morning probably got the impression that Lieberman’s innocent verdict is temporary. Any moment now [Attorney General] Weinstein will file the appeal, like he promised, and two minutes later the District Court will overturn the verdict and Lieberman will go back to being the hardened criminal we always knew he was,” he said.

“I’m sorry to disappoint, but Lieberman can definitely sleep soundly,” he said. Courts very rarely overturn the evidence presented in a lower court, he explained, and in Lieberman’s case the court’s evidence-based findings – for example, its finding that Lieberman was not involved in appointing the ambassador to Belarus – were critical.

Pride, Money Played Crucial Roles in Trial
The decision to file charges against Lieberman over Ambassador Ben-Aryeh’s appointment was “a mix of evil and stupidity” in the first place, he charged. “It was mostly about the prosecution’s wounded pride” after a 12-year investigation into other alleged wrongdoing on Lieberman’s part failed to yield evidence on which to base a case.

Money was also a major factor in the trial, specifically, as it affected Lieberman’s top-notch legal team, he noted. “We need to think again about this situation where the accused can hire four of the best criminal lawyers in the country, while opposite them stands a prosecutor who, while talented, is not among the elite,” he argued.

Regarding Lieberman’s renowned team of attorneys, he said, “Any one of them could have put the prosecution in his pocket. It was like a wrestling match between a 60-kilogram contender and an opponent weighing 120 kilograms.”

The situation requires careful thought, he said. In the meantime, he suggested, “the prosecution needs to send a more impressive team that can give a worthy ‘fight’ against an excellent squad of litigators like that.”

Lieberman Faces New Battle
Lieberman is expected to return to his former position as Foreign Minister as early as next Monday. However, restoring things to what they were prior to his departure is expected to be a major task.

Recent budget cuts to government ministries affected the foreign ministry as well. In addition, some Israelis are now taking diplomacy into their own hands, reflecting a growing loss of public trust in the ministry.

According to Maariv/nrg, Lieberman faces additional challenges as well, including the erosion of the Foreign Ministry’s responsibilities over the past year as Justice Minister Tzipi Livni took charge of diplomatic talks with the Palestinian Authority and Minister of Intelligence and International Relations Yuval Steinitz took over managing Israeli dialogue with the United States and the Israeli response on Iran.

Lieberman reportedly will also have to deal with the recent loss of several promising diplomats, who left for more lucrative positions in the private sector, and with the fallout of a recent corruption affair involving two Foreign Ministry workers who allegedly used government funds to buy luxury goods.