Whatever one’s ideology, it has to be admitted: Netanyahu has a lousy coalition. With Kadima and Labor most probably out, he will be held hostage by:
Whining members of Likud: Member who want jobs — good jobs — and refuse to see the simple truth – without Israel Beiteinu there’s no coalition. Without a coalition there are no jobs. If Bibi is forced into giving Avigdor Lieberman the Foreign Ministry it’s not because he believes that Lieberman is the perfect candidate for the job. Lieberman will get the job, because he holds the cards for the future government. If Bibi can’t lure him in, there will be either a Kadima-led government or a possible call for a new election (which some of Bibi’s friends think isn’t a bad idea).
Ideological purists of all parties: This includes, on the Right, the no-leeway-whatsoever cast of the National Union and their friends in other parties. These people will abandon Bibi at the first hint that he might be caving on settlements, talks with the Palestinians, talks with the Syrians etc. It will not take long before they abandon him. But Netanyahu will also have problems with the ideologically pure to his lrft. Those people, also blind to political realities, refuse to accept the fact that Israeli voters do not feel the way they do about the danger Lieberman poses to Israel’s democracy. Thus, Netanyahu’s delicately crafted attempt to be seen as more moderate – by way of getting moderates to join him – might be in danger.
Avigdor Lieberman: There is no coalition without him. And since Lieberman’s ambition doesn’t stop at the Foreign Ministry, he will be the one to decide when to end his partnership with Bibi. Another problem with Lieberman: he likes to annoy people, especially Israeli elites. This will not help Bibi in his quest to rule from the center.
Strong opposition: Tzipi Livni got more votes than Netanyahu, and will be ready to do it again to take his seat. This means that the Israeli public will be able to replace Netanyahu should it so desire. Ariel Sharon was a strong prime minister for many reasons – one of them was the perception that there was no one around even close to being a satisfying successor. Netanyahu will not enjoy such a luxury.
The rest of the world: With Netanyahu having the image-challenged Lieberman alongside him, and the right-wing coalition limiting him, the temptation for the “rest of the world” to adopt a blame-Netanyahu-first policy will be quite hard to resist. Sharon had Shimon Peres as his dovish emissary, Netanyahu was hoping – really hoping – to have Livni or Barak. Now, it’s not even clear if he can keep Dan Meridor in his government – meaning that Bibi’s about to start his tenure with a public relations deficit that’s very hard to overcome.
So for all those happy about Netanyahu’s reemergence as prime minister I would recommend this: take advantage of Purim and celebrate now, before political disaster begins.