Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman on Wednesday said he is not concerned about upcoming legal proceedings against him and he is confident he will return to his former post as foreign minister.
“I am confident that I will be party chairman and I will return to the position of foreign minister,” he said at a Yisrael Beytenu party conference. He said that examination of the testimony against him yielded numerous statements that conflict those made by key witness Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and reinforce his own.
“All of the testimonies support my version 100 percent, so I am relaxed,” he said.
Liberman resigned from his ministerial position last month after the attorney general announced his intention to file an indictment against him over what then appeared to be relatively minor allegations of breach of trust and fraud. Earlier this week the state prosecution formally indicted Liberman on fraud and breach of trust charges relating to Ze’ev Ben Aryeh’s appointment as ambassador to Latvia in 2009.
Liberman remains in second slot on the Benjamin Netanyahu-headed joint Likud-Beytenu list for the January 22 elections.
According to the indictment, Liberman explicitly instructed Ayalon to push the Foreign Ministry’s appointments committee to name Ben Aryeh as ambassador to Latvia — without mentioning that Ben Aryeh, when serving as ambassador to Belarus, had illegally proffered help to Liberman by showing him classified documents related to a major investigation, recently closed, against the minister for alleged illicit business dealings. Ben Aryeh was indeed named as Latvia envoy, but the appointment was cancelled when his actions were exposed; he was convicted in a plea bargain last year.
Liberman claims he tore up the documentation Ben Aryeh gave him. Ben Aryeh testified that he put it in his pocket.
If found guilty, and if judges find that moral turpitude was involved, Liberman, could be barred from holding public office for up to seven years.
Liberman also responded Wednesday to the united Likud-Beytenu list’s slide in pre-election polls, saying that an internally conducted survey by pollster Yossi Vadana yielded more propitious results.
“In our poll we receive 37 or 38 seats, but in reality we’ll receive more than 40,” he said.
A Dialog poll published in Haaretz on Wednesday forecast 34 seats for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Liberman’s list, five fewer than an identical poll conducted a month earlier.
He added that Likud-Beytenu must win at least 45 seats in order to form a government impervious to blackmail by smaller parties.