JERUSALEM, (Reuters) – Israeli police on Friday questioned the new foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, for the second straight day on suspicion of bribery and money laundering, a police spokesman said.
Lieberman, an ultranationalist who became Israel’s top diplomat on Tuesday, has denied any wrongdoing and has called the police probe into his affairs a smear campaign. His anti-Arab rhetoric has alarmed Palestinians as well as Arab leaders in the region.
“Lieberman was questioned for five hours under caution today. He will be questioned again in the future,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Lieberman was questioned for seven hours on Thursday.
The questioning was part of a years-long investigation, details of which were not made available by the police.
Israeli media said Lieberman was suspected of receiving bribes through a consulting firm run by his daughter. He has been questioned about the allegations before, but not as foreign minister. There was no suggestion that his ministerial career was about to be suddenly cut short.
Lieberman had asked Israeli courts to have the investigation expedited, arguing that it was unreasonable for a public figure to be subjected to allegations which cast a stain on his character. A spokeswoman said the probe has been going on for 13 years.
Soviet-born Lieberman campaigned for 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.