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Middle east

New FM Lieberman is questioned by police

©

Video by Rachel MARUSAK

Latest update : 2009-04-02

Israel's new ultranationalist Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has been questioned by police under caution for over seven hours on suspicion of bribery and money laundering, a police spokesman said.

REUTERS - Israeli police questioned Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman under caution for over seven hours on Thursday on suspicion of bribery and money laundering, a police spokesman said.

 

Ultranationalist Lieberman, who has denied any wrongdoing, became Israel's foreign minister on Tuesday. His anti-Arab rhetoric has alarmed Palestinians and Arab leaders in the region.

 

"Avigdor Lieberman was questioned under caution by police today for seven-and-a-half hours on suspicion of carrying out the following: bribery, money laundering and breach of trust," said the police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld.

 

The questioning was part of an ongoing investigation, details of which were not immediately made available. Lieberman has been questioned before but not as foreign minister.

 

Soviet-born Lieberman campaigned in a Feb. 10 Israeli election on a slogan "no loyalty, no citizenship", seen as urging the deportation of Israeli Arab citizens charged with involvement with or advocating the actions of militants based in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank.

 

The election was triggered by a corruption scandal that forced Ehud Olmert, who was leader of the centrist Kadima party, to resign as prime minister, though he remained as caretaker until Tuesday, when rightist Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's new premier, was sworn in.

 

While in office, Olmert was questioned repeatedly by police, but so far no charges have been brought against him. He denies any wrongdoing.

 

Lieberman's policies towards Arabs, which some critics call racist, helped him win a wider electorate.

 

He says land where many of Israel's 1.5 million Arabs live should be "swapped" for West Bank Jewish settlements in a peace deal with the Palestinians.

 

A former aide to Netanyahu, Lieberman founded his party Yisrael Beiteinu, which means "Our Home is Israel", in 1999.

 

Date created : 2009-04-02

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