Benjamin Netanyahu will sit back today into his temporary seat, and observe new and old-new MKs taking their oaths. He will be proud, but perhaps despondent, too. He had garnered fifteen new seats and brought the power back to Likud. But he went out of his way to share power with his election rivals, Livni and Barak; they, on the other hand, avoided him like the plague.
Netanyahu will be surveying a kind of a small Likud-state as he sits. Kadima is clearly a Likud tributary. Most of its MKs come from the very top of the Likud slates: Livni, Bar-On, Mofaz, Hanegbi, Sheetrit, Boim. And what is Yisrael Beiteinu if not another offshoot of his party? It's headed by Yvet Lieberman, formerly Likud director-general, flanked by Uzi Landau. On the list is also Orly Levy, daughter of David Levy, the Likud's own flesh and blood. A veritable parliamentary production of "All My Sons."
Likud underwent an important transformation in those polls. It is now a mother-party, spawning other parties, and taking over the political spectrum. Once it was Mapai. Today the Zionist left counts 16 seats and is near extinct, while Likud, along with its branches, is a ruling party. This is Netanyahu's pride, but the despondency is close to follow. The Likud is the legitimate ruling party of the day, but the power might slip at any time.
And as Netanyahu is building his government, Livni is rallying to head the opposition. As she stepped out from her meeting with the designated prime minister, she rushed to the microphones to make anti-Netanyahu statements, as if fearful he might pull her back.
But what does he have to offer her while remaining in power himself? If he takes up the two-state solution, he'll lose Habayit Hayehudi and Yisrael Beiteinu, along with some of his own MKs. He knows this is the only way forward but can't afford to lose the flak jacket of his "natural allies."
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