The former Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman has pleaded not guilty to fraud and breach of trust, at the opening of his trial in Jerusalem.
He is said to have promoted the Israeli ambassador to Belarus in return for a tip-off about a now-defunct police investigation into his financial affairs.
The outspoken head of the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party was seen as hugely influential in the last coalition government. His career is now in the balance.
“If he gets more than three months in jail he would be for seven years outside not only the government, but also the Israeli parliament. One might say he will be outside Israeli politics,” said legal analyst Moshe Negbi.
Lieberman, who resigned as foreign minister in December, did not speak as he left the court.
Before the trial he said he was confident of being acquitted and could return to his former post.
He was re-elected to parliament in last month’s elections on a joint ticket with Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, and says the prime minister has promised to reserve the post for him in the next government.
Court proceedings will resume in just over two months’ time, on April 25.