Israeli FM Avigdor Lieberman runs alone in 2015 polls

Israel’s foreign minister, Moldovan-born Lieberman, 56, heads the ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, which ran jointly with Likud in the 2013 election.

HEBRON, WEST BANK (MARCH 15, 2015) (REUTERS) – Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, Moldovan-born Lieberman, 56, heads the ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is our home) party, which ran jointly with Likud in the 2013 election.

Lieberman’s party is going it alone this time.

Polls predict it will win only five or six seats as his support base, immigrants from the former Soviet Union, integrate more into Israeli society and turn to other parties.

Lieberman has broken off his alliance with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and stepped up his rhetoric on a range of issues in recent months as he tried to rally support for his party ahead of parliamentary elections.

Lieberman is known for his nationalistic rhetoric, making it a key component of his election campaigning.

His controversial policies include imposing a loyalty oath on Israel’s Arab minority and trading Israeli-Arab towns to any future Palestinian state for territory in the occupied West Bank where Jewish settlements have been built.

Lieberman has called on Israeli Arabs, who make up about 20 percent of Israel’s 8 million population, to take a loyalty oath if they want to remain in Israel, a measure that Netanyahu denounced at the time.

Lieberman is one of the most strident voices in favor of the separation of Jews and Arabs, according to which Palestinians living in Jaffa and Acre, two mixed cities on the Mediterranean coast far from the West Bank, should be encouraged to move if they want.

Lieberman immigrated to Israel in 1978.

He became administrative head of the Likud in 1993 and ran the prime minister’s office from 1996 to 1997 during Netanyahu’s first term. He left Likud to form Yisrael Beitenu in 1999.

During Lieberman’s political career he faced few police investigation. In 2012 he was charged with fraud and breach of trust and resign from his job as Forign Minister.

More serious allegations, including money-laundering and bribery, were dropped, but even the lesser charges cast a cloud over his political future and within 24 hours of receiving the ministry report, he decided to stand down.

A year after his resignation, Lieberman came back to office after the Israeli central court has acquitted him from all the allegations.