By Ralph Forbes
Israeli Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a particularly nasty piece of work, was forced to resign on December 18 after being charged with fraud, just weeks before the Israeli elections.
Earlier in the year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Lieberman had announced the merger of their rival political parties, Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu, to run together on a single ballot in Israel’s upcoming January 22, 2013 general elections.
After 16 years of investigations of accepting bribes, the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars, money laundering, setting up a network of shell companies, aggravated fraud, graft and witness tampering, Israel’s Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein decided to indict Lieberman only on lesser charges of fraud and breach of trust, which resulted from Lieberman receiving privileged information passed to him by Ze’ev Ben Aryeh, Israel’s ambassador to Belarus in 2008. Ben Aryeh had warned Lieberman that there was a criminal investigation into his business dealings abroad. Lieberman reportedly flushed documents down the toilet and then promoted the ambassador twice.
As a member of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, Lieberman purportedly received millions of shekels from numerous Israeli and international operators. One accusation is that Israeli industrialist Michael Cherney laundered huge sums via the Path to the East Company from 1999 to 2006 to bribe Lieberman. Lieberman is also under investigation for receiving a bribe from Austrian-Jewish businessman Martin Schlaff, who was found to have given a $3M bribe to Ariel “The Butcher” Sharon.
Lieberman, a former nightclub bouncer who rose to infamy as a result of his stridently anti-Palestinian views, has a long history of making reprehensible comments.
At a meeting with Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in October 2009, Lieberman thought Hiroshima and Nagasaki were good examples and that Gaza should be nuked. He either forgot or didn’t care that the electromagnetic pulse that would result from a nuclear detonation would also wipe out communications in the region and doom all life in Israel for many years.
In July 2003, Lieberman offered to drown 350 Palestinian prisoners in the Dead Sea. According to Israel’s Army radio, as minister of transport, Lieberman even said he would supply the buses to take the prisoners to be murdered.
Ralph Forbes is a freelance writer based in Arkansas. He is also a member of AFP’s Southern Bureau. Contact him at [email protected]