Israel’s National Fraud Squad determined Sunday that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman should be indicted for a host of crimes, including, as Haaretz reports today, “money laundering, accepting bribes, obstruction of justice and harassing a witness.” After an investigation that lasted about a decade, the fraud squad concluded that Lieberman profited to the tune of 10 million shekels, about $260,000, and he now says that he’ll resign his cabinet post if Israel’s attorney general indicts him.
The foreign ministry was characteristically given to moderates under previous Likud prime minister, but this time it went to an ultra-conservative nationalist because of his party Yisrael Beiteinu’s remarkable showing in last year’s elections. According to many observers of his tenuous right-wing coalition, Netanyahu has been hoping that Lieberman’s legal troubles would do him in, thus allowing the prime minister to avoid firing a foreign minister internationally recognized as an embarrassment for Israel. (Even Nicolas Sarkozy, bane of the banlieue “scum” and the Islamic headscarf, publicly called for the ouster of a man.) An indictment, then, would be perhaps the best thing that’s happened to Benjamin Netanyahu so far in his administration.