Israeli police want nation’s foreign minister charged

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, left,  has been the focus of a corruption investigation.
Israeli police Sunday recommended charging Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman with a slew of crimes following a lengthy corruption probe.

Investigators “believe there is sufficient evidence to charge him with the crimes of bribery, fraud, obstruction of justice, harassing a witness, breach of trust and money laundering offenses,” the police spokesman’s office said in a statement. Police allege that crimes date back to before Lieberman became foreign minister earlier this year. Over the years, Lieberman has held various government posts. He is also the founder and leader of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu political party. Lieberman has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. “For 13 years the police have been persecuting me,” he said in a statement Sunday, “and as my political power and the power of Yisrael Beiteinu grow, the attempts to remove me from public activity worsen. “There was no real reason to begin the investigation, and if the suspicions were founded the investigation would not have taken over a decade.” Fraud investigators have repeatedly questioned Lieberman.

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Allegations against him include receiving a bribe via his daughter’s consulting firm. Investigators have questioned his daughter and lawyer. Lieberman, a former bouncer, is a polarizing figure within Israel. His party has been accused of racism against Palestinians and Arab citizens of Israel. He wants all Knesset members — both Arabs and Jews — to prove their loyalty by swearing allegiance to the Israeli flag and national anthem. Born in Moldova in 1958, Lieberman immigrated to Israel in 1978.