Israeli foreign minister resigns over fraud charges

Last Updated: Fri, Dec 14, 2012 15:20 hrs

London, Dec 14 (IANS) Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman Friday resigned after being charged with fraud and breach of trust following a long-running investigation, BBC reported.

The 54-year-old Lieberman also resigned as deputy prime minister, and said he would fight to clear his name.

The case against him relates to a financial scandal dating back more than a decade.

His resignation comes five weeks before Israel's general election.

Lieberman leads the secular, ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu faction, which has joined forces with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party for the Jan 22 elections, according to the New York Times.

He is widely considered one of Israel's most powerful and popular politicians.

Lieberman said he had been hounded by corruption accusations since July 1996, when he served as a top aide to Netanyahu during his first term as prime minister.

"Since then till today, not a day has passed without me being referred to as 'a suspect', 'being under investigation', 'being an intelligence target'," Lieberman was quoted as saying by the NYT.

"This has been one long and rolling case, receiving a different title every now and then."

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