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Israeli foreign minister Lieberman resigns following indictment on breach of trust, fraud

JERUSALEM — Facing indictment for breach of trust and fraud, Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, resigned his post Friday afternoon amid mounting political pressure, upending the campaign landscape five weeks before national elections.

Lieberman, a powerful but polarizing figure, wrote on ­Facebook, ‘‘I know that I committed no crime,’’ but said he was stepping down so ‘‘I will be able to put an end to this matter swiftly and without delay and to clear my name completely.’’

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Lieberman, who is also a member of Parliament, indicated that he hopes to compete in the Jan. 22 balloting, suggesting a possible plea bargain.

He fought off a broader accusation of money laundering and fraud that was dropped ­after an investigation that lasted more than 12 years. The indictment, which prosecutors announced on Thursday, concerns a relatively minor offense.

‘‘I believe that the citizens of the State of Israel are entitled to go to the polling stations after this matter has already been resolved,’’ Lieberman said.

If the legal ruling could be made before the elections, ‘‘I might continue to serve the State of Israel and the citizens of Israel as part of a strong and united leadership that will cope with the security, political, and economic challenges facing the State of Israel,’’ he said.

Lieberman, 54, leads the secular, ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, which joined forces in October with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party. A populist emigrant from the former Soviet Union, he was widely considered as a potential successor to Netanyahu as leader of Israel’s right wing, though his hard line on the Palestinian question, among other issues, alienated many Western allies.

Lieberman told supporters he had been hounded by corruption accusations since 1996.

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