Yesterday Avigdor Lieberman was interrogated for the third time since taking office as foreign minister. His various corruption investigations have been dragging on for years — 13 by his count — yet suddenly he’s become the Israeli justice system’s top priority. Why?
One hesitates to jump to conclusions. Yet for years there has been a fairly glaring pattern correlating Israeli leaders’ politics and the frequency and intensity of criminal investigations against them. When Ariel Sharon was Prime Minister, he was under non-stop inquiry — until he announced his plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, and suddenly the corruption and alleged crimes were largely forgotten. Of course, some might say the logic works in reverse: that Sharon only did the disengagement in order to stop the investigations. Either way, it suggests a very problematic relationship between justice and politics.
Is the same true for Lieberman? Hard to tell, but there is something just too coincidental about how deeply he is despised by the Israeli Left and the sudden rediscovery of his possible wrongdoings. An indictment would almost certainly lead to his stepping down. Without taking anything away from the question of whether he is guilty or innocent, or even whether he is good or bad for Israel as foreign minister, one cannot feel very good about Israeli democracy with this kind of thing going on.