ANALYSIS / Netanyahu's victory is starting to turn sour
The Likud chairman's choices will go from bad to worse as he weighs Lieberman's stunning demands.
Quite a few jaws dropped to the floor as the list of portfolios requested by Avigdor Lieberman became public: Justice, Public Security and Foreign. This sounds like a bad joke, or an aggressive push by a man up to his neck in investigations to usurp the rule of law.
One can imagine Foreign Minister Lieberman returning from one of the few countries that will agree to let him in, and summoning the Justice and Public Security ministers to catch up on his investigations; or alternately, telling Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann whom he prefers as the next attorney general.
Or you could imagine the faces of Likud MKs Yuval Steinitz, who is hoping to become public security minister, Gideon Sa'ar, a leading Justice Ministry candidate, or Silvan Shalom, who wants to return to the Foreign Ministry, when they heard about Lieberman's demands. One could imagine that resuscitation was in order.
They are not alone. Soon, Netanyahu's door will be bowing under the weight of nearly all the incumbent Likud MKs.
What will be left for them, and for the new MKs Dan Meridor, Benny Begin and Moshe Ya'alon, once Yvet, Shas' Eli Yishai and others have been paid?
More than a decade ago, Netanyahu was badly scorched by the "Bar-On Hebron" affair and its allegations of bad appointments, and nearly lost the premiership. Thursday, he must have experienced a flashback - the bitter division among the people, the hatred of the elites, his relentless pursuit by the media.
This is not how he planned to begin his second term.
In the weeks to come, Netanyahu's choices will go from bad to worse. As time passes since the general elections, his victory is turning sour.
Tzipi Livni will not join a government resting on a narrow 65-person majority, composed of the right and the ultra-Orthodox. She might consider joining a government with Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu and United Torah Judaism, but nothing more than that.
But Netanyahu can not give up Shas and Habayit Hayehudi; they are his safety net. In some scenarios, this net may well turn out to be a noose.
Livni will let him wriggle and contort with his "natural allies." Even Netanyahu's famous personal charm, which he no doubt will have a chance to use, is unlikely to persuade Livni to climb on board so long as that means standing next to Shas, National Union and Habayit Hayehudi.
Livni, who has spent most of her political life in the government, is now heading into the opposition.
She is heading there determined, which cannot be said of some of her fellow MKs, whose mouths must be drying up with horror in anticipation of the stuffy Knesset committees, untouched by the clear breeze of the heights of power.