In the months leading up to the elections, Benjamin Netanyahu told anyone willing to listen that a unity government is his strategic objective. However, on election night, alarmed by a cosmetic inferiority vis-à-vis Kadima, he was quick to present himself as the leader of the “National Camp” and declared that “our bloc won.”
He did not have the poise, the sense of leadership, and the wisdom required to immediately pledge to only head a broad government. He did not take a deep breath and count to 10; as usual, he was sweating.
Two days later, he sobered up. However, not to the extent needed in order to abandon his intense efforts to elicit the support of premiership recommenders - a “dream team” comprising Michael Ben-Ari, Avigdor Lieberman, and Eli Yishai. Under such circumstances, his call for unity came across as hollow, or desperate. In any case, Tzipi Livni has no reason to accept it.
Here is a brief historical review: In the last three opportunities where the Right formed a narrow government, it collapsed. Rabin defeated Shamir after two years of such government. Ehud Barak crushed Netanyahu after three years. Meanwhile, the narrow government formed by Ariel Sharon ended with the Likud splitting and Kadima’s establishment.
The reason for this is simple. The diplomatic-security doctrine of the center-Left camp may be problematic, filled with contradictions, and poked with holes like Swiss cheese, yet the Right’s doctrine is simply impossible.
As opposed to the common perception, the 2009 Netanyahu has not moderated. He may have softened in terms of his personal conduct, yet his ideological positions have been greatly radicalized. This is no longer the Netanyahu who spoke about making a secure peace and insisted on reciprocity vis-à-vis the Palestinians.
Livni’s training groundsThis was replaced by a stubborn rejection of diplomatic solutions, with no peace or reciprocity. To his credit, we shall note the even the elections frenzy did not cause him to break to the Center, as is customary.
Meanwhile, Livni’s great mass of voters came from the Left. We cannot have a situation whereby those who enlisted voters with the slogan “It’s either Tzipi or Bibi” will turn into the cornerstone of Netanyahu’s government.
A woman who makes pretenses of leading a bloc that represents roughly half the nation must acquire upgraded political skills and much greater determination on the moral front. As such, the opposition looks like excellent training grounds.