New Israeli minister questioned in bribery case

Image: Avigdor Lieberman
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.Tara Todras-whitehll / AP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

Israeli police interrogated the country's new hard-line foreign minister for more than seven hours on Thursday in connection to an ongoing bribery investigation.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Avigdor Lieberman was questioned at the headquarters of the national fraud squad in central Israel on allegations of receiving bribes, money laundering and breach of trust.

Rosenfeld said the questioning was connected to a long-standing investigation into Lieberman's business dealings. His lawyer and daughter have also been questioned in the case. Lieberman denies any wrongdoing and says the probe is politically motivated.

"This investigation is going on for 13 years. In today's investigation Lieberman cooperated and answered investigators' questions," Lieberman's spokeswoman Irena Etinger said.

Opposed to peace talks
Lieberman took office this week as foreign minister. He has raised concerns around the world with statements seen as racist and his opposition to U.S.-backed peace talks over the past year.

He immediately sparked an uproar after taking office during a ceremony on Wednesday, saying he opposes concessions to Arab adversaries in exchange for peace.

"Whoever thinks that concessions ... will achieve something is wrong. He will bring pressures and more wars," Lieberman told an audience that included visibly agitated Israeli diplomats. "What we have to explain to the world is that the list of priorities must change."

His comments drew condemnations from Palestinians, Arab countries and his predecessor, Tzipi Livni, who served as Israel's chief peace negotiator while she was foreign minister.

Lieberman has also had his trouble with the law. Police have questioned him several times by police throughout his political career.

Earlier this year, Lieberman's daughter, his lawyer and five other confidants were detained in the current bribery investigation.

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