In August 2009, Liberman said at the Knesset, “If the attorney-general decides to indict me, I will resign from the cabinet that moment.”
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein’s office officially announced the foreign minister’s indictment shortly after 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. He is still foreign minister.
But at a press conference at a Tel Aviv bar where he went to woo young voters,Liberman explained that when he had made his commitment, he had been referring to the big case against him in which the charges against him were dropped, not the little case that resulted in his indictment, which is based on events that happened after he made the promise.
He said he would consult with his lawyers but also keep in mind the will of his voters.
His lawyers, however, already told him he did not have to quit, and his voters will tell him the same thing.
Unless Weinstein or the Supreme Court obligate Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to fire Liberman, he is not going anywhere.
After the election, Weinstein will have to rule whether Liberman can be appointed foreign minister again, but even then, chances are, nothing will prevent Liberman from continuing his attacks on unfriendly European countries.
Netanyahu released a statement supporting Liberman and downplaying his indictment.
Liberman pointed out that he had been under investigation for 16 years. The more high profile the investigations were, the stronger Liberman got politically. The legal establishment that tried to bring him down played into his hands time and time again.
Ahead of past elections, it looked as if the State Attorney’s Office would finally bring him down. This time, he took extra precautions.
The deal Liberman signed to bring Yisrael Beytenu into the Likud saved his political allies and ensured his political future.
Imagine if Yisrael Beytenu was running on its own and Weinstein would prevent Liberman from running. His party might have vanished overnight.
Now he has 15 seats in the top 42 on the joint Likud-Yisrael Beytenu list, regardless of whether he is prevented from running.
Now, even if he does have to resign later on, he will still have a political base to return to if his trial ends successfully.
With the most serious charges against him dropped, Liberman will probably only get stronger politically. His voters believe he was wrongly pursued, and they believe his case.
He might be overly blunt, he might have crossed ethical and perhaps even legal red lines. But it cannot be denied that Liberman appears to be honest. His word is indeed his bond.