The Victory: Significant or Pointless?

Mofaz has achieved a reputation as a slayer of princes, real and imaginary - Matan Vilnai, Uzi Dayan, Moshe Ya'alon, Livni. And Netanyahu, after all, is a prince like them.

Apolitician of Mizrahi extraction who was once a defense minister and a senior IDF commander. A retired chief of staff. A former justice minister and a former public security minister. Most of them from Likud. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, or is this nearly the whole iceberg, which melts in the sun?

Shaul Mofaz in the role of Yitzhak Mordechai (but without the criminal conviction), Dan Halutz in the role of Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, Meir Sheetrit as Dan Meridor, Avi Dichter as Roni Milo. Kadima led by Mofaz appears to be a redux of the Center Party, circa 1999. That party won 6 seats in the Knesset. So many would-be prime ministers, so few MKs.

Lipkin-Shahak and two other Center Party MKs, Dalia Rabin and Uri Savir, did not come from Likud, but what united them with Mordechai and his gang was the desire to be rid of Benjamin Netanyahu. They rode a wave of public disenchantment with Netanyahu in order to topple him, if not for their own benefit, then for another candidate, Ehud Barak.

Now Barak is looking from below at the Knesset threshold and is sitting in Netanyahu's pocket, next to a lit cigar. But Mofaz's task only appears to be easier than Mordechai's at the time, because Kadima headed by Mofaz can be absorbed as a Likud faction under Netanyahu.

When Ariel Sharon established Kadima, he couldn't make do with the people leaving Likud. To present the voters with the appearance of a broader middle ground, a few to his right and a few to his left, he searched and found three who were disappointed in Labor under Amir Peretz - Shimon Peres, Haim Ramon and Dalia Itzik. Kadima under Mofaz is made up almost entirely of people who left Likud, like him. And the way they left Likud, they can go back, like Meridor.

Such a hollow framework can't draw many voters who eschewed Likud and Labor in the previous elections. At best, Netanyahu will give a senior portfolio to Mofaz and two or three of his 30 (why not 40? ) cabinet positions, without significant impact. His personal achievement in the race against Tzipi Livni will prove a pyrrhic victory.

There is no relationship between retail politics (investing in personal relations ) and wholesale politics (vote contractors ). There is no need to excuse a victory. It speaks for itself, even though sometimes, like after the election pitting Sharon against Ehud Olmert for the Likud leadership, the police and state comptroller are involved. This is the known price of victory at any cost.

The essential question is what the victory means. Is it an end in and of itself, or merely the means to achieve a much greater goal than the victor's personal satisfaction? The media reaction to Mofaz's victory is strange: rejoicing at Livni's fall, as if the celebrants were so happy with Netanyahu's performance, someone who lost to Livni in the election and beat her in cobbling together a coalition.

Netanyahu faces a difficult summer, a fragile one for his government: Migron, draft evaders (the ultra-Orthodox and the Tal Law ), protests and a trial (Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman; the new date for a decision on a corruption indictment discussed in Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein's circles is May ). Mofaz, meanwhile, has achieved a reputation as a slayer of princes, real and imaginary - Matan Vilnai, Uzi Dayan, Moshe Ya'alon, Livni. And Netanyahu, after all, is a prince like them.

Mofaz has yet to be tested independently. Twice he proved that he knows how to win an appointment thanks to a single patron (he became chief of staff when Mordechai pressed Netanyahu, and was chosen defense minister by Sharon ). Now, for the first time, he has managed to get elected. In the Olympics of politics there's no room for pretending that "victory is not what's important - participating is." The real challenge begins the minute you win.