Profile: Avigdor Lieberman
Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, is one of Israel's most popular and controversial politicians.
Originally from Moldova, he became Israel's foreign minister and deputy prime minister in 2009 after leading his party to third place in that year's parliamentary elections and joining the Likud-led governing coalition.
In October, he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu would form an alliance ahead of fresh elections in January 2013. Opinion polls suggested that they would win easily.
However, Mr Lieberman's involvement in any new government was cast into doubt in December when prosecutors said he would be charged with breach of trust in a case concerning a former ambassador to Belarus.
The next day, Mr Lieberman surprised many by announcing his resignation as a minister and waived his parliamentary immunity.
"Even though I know I did not break any law... I have decided to resign," he said. "After 16 years of investigations against me I can end this issue quickly without delay and completely clear my name."Immigrants
Mr Lieberman was born in 1958 in Kishinev in the USSR, now Chisinau in Moldova.
He emigrated to Israel at the age of 20 under the Law of Return, where he served in the military and gained a BA in social sciences from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
He became active in student politics and began his career working for Likud, serving as the party's director general between 1993 and 1996, followed by a year as head of Mr Netanyahu's office during his first term as prime minister.
He then left Likud and founded his own party, Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home), which became popular among the one million Russian-speaking Jews who came to Israel following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
In its first election in 1999, the party won four seats in Israel's parliament, the Knesset.
From 1999 to 2002, Mr Lieberman served as minister of national infrastructure, and from 2003 to 2004 he served as minister of transportation.
But in 2004, he was sacked from the governing coalition after opposing then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, which went ahead anyway in the summer of 2005.
Mr Lieberman became a major player in Israeli politics in March 2006, when his party won 11 seats.
This paved the way for him to become deputy prime minister and minister of strategic affairs in Ehud Olmert's governing coalition, which was led by the Kadima party.
In 2009, Mr Lieberman led Yisrael Beiteinu to third place in the parliamentary elections, displacing the Labour party.
With 15 seats under his control he became "kingmaker", blocking efforts by the largest party in the Knesset, Kadima, to form a coalition government and instead declaring his support for Likud and Mr Netanyahu. In return, Mr Lieberman was given the powerful posts of foreign minister and deputy prime minister.Oath of allegiance
As Israel's top diplomat, Mr Lieberman's hardline policies, blunt invective and disregard for political correctness have raised concern domestically and internationally.
Most recently, he was criticised by the EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, for comparing the bloc's Israel policy to European countries' attitude towards the Jews before and during the Holocaust.
Mr Lieberman has angered Israeli Arabs by calling for an oath of allegiance to be a requirement for non-Jews taking Israeli citizenship. He wants them to swear loyalty to Israel as a Jewish, democratic state, to accept its symbols, flag and anthem, and to commit to military service.
Arabs currently make up more than a million of Israel's 7 million people.
Although he favours a two-state solution with the Palestinians, he has also controversially advocated trading parts of Israel that are predominantly Arab in exchange for the land on which major settlement blocs are built in the West Bank.
Though the Palestinians have said they would accept land swaps, the exchange would significantly reduce the number of Arabs who are Israeli citizens. Mr Lieberman says not doing so would create a "state-and-a-half for one people and half a state for the other".
Mr Lieberman has also advocated assassinating the leaders of the Palestinian Islamist movement, Hamas, which governs Gaza, and said he would support the death penalty for Arab members of the Knesset who met leaders of Hamas or Lebanon's Hezbollah, both of which Israel has designated as terrorist groups.
And he reportedly said in 2009 that Israel should "continue to fight Hamas just like the United States did with the Japanese in World War II" - widely interpreted to have been a reference to the dropping of nuclear bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.'Suspicions'
Mr Lieberman has also been dogged by corruption allegations.
After more than a decade of investigations, Israel's attorney general, Yehuda Weinstein, announced on 13 December 2012 that he would be charged with breach of trust.
Mr Lieberman is accused of promoting Israel's former ambassador to Belarus, Zeev Ben Aryeh, to another post after the diplomat gave him confidential information regarding an Israeli police probe into his activities. He is alleged to have failed to inform the foreign ministry appointments committee or the cabinet about the connection.
However, Mr Weinstein also said Mr Lieberman would not face the more serious charges of fraud and money laundering relating to another case, in which he was suspected of receiving millions of dollars from international tycoons with business interests in Israel through companies led by family members or associates.
The attorney general said he could not adequately prove a link between Mr Lieberman and the money, though he cautioned: "The suspicions against Lieberman's series of intricate and intertwined, underhanded actions cannot be ruled out."