Former Israeli minister Avigdor Lieberman cleared of graft charges
Former Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman was acquitted of corruption charges yesterday, a verdict that paves the way for the far-right politician to return to the post.
Lieberman's ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party is allied with the right-wing Likud of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who kept open the foreign ministry portfolio for him while the trial was under way.
A Jerusalem court decided unanimously to acquit Lieberman, who had been charged with fraud and breach of trust over allegations he gave an Israeli diplomat an ambassador's post in exchange for a tip-off about a police investigation into his affairs.
"This chapter is now behind me," 55-year-old Lieberman said outside court. Prosecutors said they were weighing up whether to appeal.
Lieberman has been outspokenly sceptical of US-backed peace talks with the Palestinians, which resumed in July after a three-year impasse, saying that he thought any permanent deal "impossible".
His party has grown into one of Israel's largest political forces on the strength of votes from Moldova-born Lieberman's fellow immigrants from former Soviet republics.