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Israeli ex-foreign minister Avigdor Liberman acquitted

From Michael Schwartz, CNN
updated 7:15 AM EST, Wed November 6, 2013
Former Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman appears at Jerusalem Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
Former Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman appears at Jerusalem Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulates Liberman on his acquittal
  • Netanyahu has held Liberman's post open since Liberman's resignation
  • Liberman resigned in December amid allegations of breach of trust and fraud
  • He has said he did not violate any laws

Jerusalem (CNN) -- Former Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman was acquitted Wednesday of corruption-related charges.

The triumphant former minister talked to reporters after leaving the courtroom.

"I don't intend to deal with this matter any longer. This chapter is behind me, and I am going to concentrate on the challenges which are already on our doorstep -- and there are plenty of them," he said.

Liberman announced his resignation last December, a day after the Ministry of Justice said he would be charged with breach of trust and fraud. Liberman has maintained that he has not violated any laws.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been holding Liberman's post open for him until his return.

"I congratulate you on your unanimous acquittal and am pleased that you are returning to the government," Netanyahu told Liberman on Wednesday, according to the foreign minister's office.

But before Liberman can return to the Foreign Ministry, the government has to vote on his nomination.

The allegations

The case against Liberman dates back to 2009. Prosecutors said he pushed to get the Israeli ambassador to Belarus posted to another country after the diplomat allegedly handed over confidential information that included details of a secret police inquiry regarding Liberman.

Liberman has faced international criticism for his hard-line stance on Israel's Arab minorities.

His ultra-nationalist party is especially popular with immigrants from the former Soviet Union, where Liberman was born and raised.

CNN's Sara Sidner and Saad Abedine contributed to this report.

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