Ayalon testifies against former boss Liberman in fraud trial

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Danny Ayalon at the fraud trial of ex-Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman testified that his former boss advanced a diplomat’s appointment in return for information.

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Ayalon, the former deputy foreign minister and the state’s key witness against Liberman, testified Thursday in Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court.

Ayalon is the state’s only witness who says that Liberman advanced the position of Ze’ev Ben Aryeh, Israel’s former ambassador to Belarus, actively seeking to promote him in 2004 to the position of ambassador to Latvia in exchange for information on an investigation against Liberman.

“I was in his office, we discussed political matters and by the end of the talk he told me that Ben Aryeh must be appointed to the Riga post,” Ayalon told the court.

Ayalon said he never asked Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, why he wanted to appoint Ben Aryeh.

Liberman resigned as foreign minister at the end of December, shortly before his indictment for fraud and breach of trust for allegedly advancing Ben Aryeh. The charges came after Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein closed a 12-year probe of Liberman in other cases.

Liberman has said he would resign from politics if he is convicted. If he is convicted and his actions are determined to involve moral turpitude, Liberman would be forced to resign from the Knesset and stay out of politics for at least seven years.

Shortly before the indictment was formally issued, Liberman announced that Ayalon would not be included on the Yisrael Beiteinu Knesset list for the national elections.

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