The attorney general of Israel may charge the country’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman with corruption.
The offences on which his being brought to trial is being considered are fraud, breach of trust, receiving something by deception, money-laundering and tampering with a witness, a statement from the justice ministry said.
The Justice Minister said corruption allegations against Lieberman involved millions of dollars covering the years 2001 and 2008 when he served as a member of parliament and minister of strategic affairs.
Lieberman, a member of the hard-line Yisrael Beiteinu party, will be allowed to argue his case in a final hearing before charges are formally filed.
In a speech to his party members, Lieberman denied he had done anything wrong.
I know and you know that I always acted in accordance with the law, and there is no reason for worry, he said.
After 15 years, I finally will have an opportunity to prove that I acted lawfully, he added. As you know, with me my word is my bond.
If formally charged, Lieberman said he will resign as both a minister and member of parliament.
Lieberman himself founded Yisrael Beiteinu as a reaction against the government’s negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, which granted more gland concessions to the Arabs. The party is the second –largest portion of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government and the third largest in the Israeli parliament.
In the event Lieberman is forces out or quits, an election might be triggered.
An Israeli news service Ynet reported that: There is a gentlemen's agreement between [Lieberman] and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stating that regardless of an indictment Yisrael Beiteinu will not exit the coalition.”
Israeli news agencies have reported that French President Nicolas Sarkozy has indicated to Netanyahu that Lieberman should be fired.
Lieberman has faced such fraud allegations before, at least going back to 1996, but has never been charged.
Israeli police also suspect that Zeev Ben Arieh, the former ambassador to Belarus, Zeev Ben Arieh, passed a confidential document to Lieberman related to another investigation into the foreign minister.
In addition, it is alleged that Lieberman received about $2.5 million in illegal campaign donations through Cypriot bank accounts opened by his daughter.
Liebermann has long made provocative comments about Arabs.
In 2001, he pled guilty to assaulting a Palestinian boy in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim who has hit his son.
He has also said that Israeli Arab MPs who have communicated with Hamas (he militant Islamist Palestinian group that controls Gaza) should be executed. He commented that Gaza should be treated like Chechnya and that Israel should battle Hamas just like the United States did with the Japanese in World War II.