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Israeli Justice Minister Resigns After Obstruction Probe Ordered

Nearly two months after the Netanyahu government was formed, a Cabinet minister has resigned.

Justice Minister Ya’acov Ne’eman offered his resignation Thursday after Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair instructed police to open an investigation against him for allegedly obstructing court proceedings relating to the case of Shas Knesset member Aryeh Deri.

Deri, a former interior minister in the government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, resigned from his Cabinet post in 1993 after being indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of public trust.

The Justice Ministry issued a statement Thursday charging that “the attorney general’s decision lacks any basis and was done in continuation with his efforts to keep his position as attorney general.”

Ne’eman “would place himself at the police’s disposal,” the statement continued, “in order that his innocence can be proven and it is made clear that there is no foundation for the accusations against him.”

The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed Ne’eman’s resignation, issuing a statement expressing the hope he would soon be able to return to the position.

Ne’eman, a law professor with no party affiliation, is a member of the board of governors of the Bank of Israel and of the Central Committee of the World Bank.

Another Cabinet member, Agriculture Minister Rafael Eitan, is also the object of a police investigation.

Before he was named to the Cabinet, Eitan was alleged to have misused classified army documents from the personal file of an activist in his far- right Tsomet Party.

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