The question of how bringing Kadima into the government will affect the political standing of Shaul Mofaz, Ehud Barak, Dalia Itzik, Otniel Schneller, Shalom Simhon and the other coalition MKs - will it extend or shorten their political status, stabilize it or undermine it? - is fading in importance.
Instead, some MKs in the 94-member coalition - including Mofaz, Itzik, Roni Bar-On and Avi Dichter - are now talking about "mivhan hatotza'ah," the test on the ground, the proof that's in the pudding. In the words of Itzik, the Kadima faction whip: "The wedding isn't great, but let's see how the kids turn out." True, Itzik could have added, we've stumbled onto a heaping pile of animal droppings, but there's a bar of gold hidden beneath, and in the test on the ground we'll prove that good can come out of all this crap.
Of course, the definition of good depends on who's doing the defining. Aside from the immediate benefit that accrues directly to the members of the coalition, nothing good will come out of this unity government. Not counting Itzik's description of her confusion over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's surprise decision to join forces with Iranian-born Kadima leader Mofaz. "I didn't understand what was going on," she was quoted as saying. "I thought it was Iran. But it wasn't Iran. It was the Iranian."
Here and there someone will whisper something about replacing the Tal Law governing draft exemptions for the ultra-Orthodox or changing the electoral system; a committee will be formed and a public debate will be promised. And the Palestinians? If a letter demonstrating peaceful intentions were to be sent, MK Miri Regev of Likud would intercept the dove. And as for the Ulpana neighborhood of the Beit El settlement, a compromise will eventually be reached; that's why the Justice Ministry has a seat for a sorcerer. Even the reports the state comptroller leaves behind will pale in comparison to the pink, pleased-as-punch cheeks of Netanyahu, Barak and Mofaz.
The people who brought us elections, and then swapped it for a unity government, are bequeathing us one big nothing, though disaster is a possible exception to all that nothing. All you have to do is look at what happened - or, to be more accurate, what didn't happen - over the past three years, and realize that the list of achievements that will be examined in the test on the ground is full of foolishness.
Lack of majority support is not the only factor behind Netanyahu's failure to promote an alternative to the Tal Law or attempt to change the electoral system. If he had wanted to promote those initiatives, and had wanted serious negotiations with the Palestinians, Kadima would have joined his coalition long ago.
Netanyahu didn't want to risk a confrontation with the ultra-Orthodox parties, just as he didn't want to risk a confrontation with the settlers - and he won't risk it now, with either group. Until the next crisis breaks out, his coalition will be strengthened by the appearance of negotiations with the Palestinians, which will be kept on a low flame. It's called slow cooking.
People have been trying to find out what Netanyahu really means at least since his Bar-Ilan speech in 2009, in which he laid out a vision of a two-state solution. The king of spin makes many promises, and the analysts swear it's an about-face: He will go for a peace agreement with the Palestinians and fulfill the policy of two states for two peoples. Around the time Netanyahu spoke before Congress last May, commentators counted 30 words they said would change the face of the Middle East. Now they are focusing their predictions on Iran - the enterprise through which Netanyahu and Barak will make history.
The night before Netanyahu called Iran a "nuclear duck" at the AIPAC conference in March, several analysts said the next Israeli election would have to focus on a possible attack on Iran. Let's say that's the case. But if so, who will raise the issues for debate or supply the relevant statistics? The man who has been dubbed "the liar"? The man who can't identify a crisis, or a trap set by his own party, unless it's right under his nose? The visionary who foresaw a diplomatic tsunami in September and predicted that Syrian President Bashar Assad would be ousted within a few weeks?
On Sunday, Yossi Yehoshua wrote in Yedioth Ahronoth that the Israel Defense Forces has decided to stop building a new underground pit in Tel Aviv's Kirya defense headquarters, because it would collapse in the event of a missile attack. The IDF's pit, it seems, would not withstand the test on the ground. And boy, have we dug ourselves in deep. And so, the question isn't whether Israel should attack Iran, but whether "the Iranian" will be able to keep us from doing so.