We Need a Grand Coalition

If Netanyahu is as good at doing as he is at talking, he would seek to be defense minister in a government made up of Labor, Likud and Kadima, headed by Livni.

The weekend yielded three interesting headlines: Knesset election ends in political stalemate; U.S. intelligence foresees Iran-Israel nuke-related showdown; Ehud Olmert questioned for 14th time at Prime Minister's Residence.

To sum up, increased production by the ego glands is causing Olmert and Benjamin Netanyahu to put up a double barrier in front of the formation of a stable government; one with a pragmatic worldview and a chance to promote Israel's interests during dangerous times.

For Tzipi Livni's sake, Olmert needs to take a vacation that would ease him out of the Prime Minister's Office. He should have done this several months ago, to put some teeth into his planned resignation.

Maybe he decided against it out of revenge; maybe he wanted to get even with Livni for demanding that he step down. Livni's success in the election shows that if she had been given a chance to become acting prime minister last fall, she could have formed a coalition and spared us all the foolishness of holding elections.

If had she entered the campaign from the Prime Minister's Office, her triumph would have been loud and clear.

Olmert's decision to remain in his position until a new government is formed is legal, but it is not proper.

It is doubtful the legislators expected a situation in which an incumbent prime minister heading a transition government does not run in a general election.

Olmert will not be a member of the 18th Knesset, but he will remain in charge for weeks or months until a new government is formed. He has the authority to make decisions, but he will not bear responsibility for their consequences.

Olmert needs to clear his seat for a successor and free himself up for some quality time for hearings with Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, and for searching for more houses and apartments across Israel.

He also has to renew his account with Rishon Tours and return to a first-class lifestyle and five-star hotels - this time as a sought-after lecturer. Of course, Olmert might refrain from traveling to the United states, lest the FBI summon him to testify against Moshe Talansky.

Whether he does all that or not, Livni's path is blocked by another barrier, in the form of a different person altogether: Benjamin Netanyahu. He does not have a government with the so-called national camp, which is actually the nationalist camp and will be the rejectionist camp.

George Mitchell is demanding that construction in the settlements cease regardless of natural population growth.

But National Union chairman Ya'akov Katz will push for population growth all the same, even if he doesn't use those precise words. Netanyahu will talk about meeting with Angela Merkel, but he will have more dealings with far-rightist Baruch Marzel.

And that's besides all the trouble Netanyahu is going to have with Avigdor Lieberman, who said before the elections: "I know where to push Bibi's buttons - I know him from the bottom up."

Without Kadima, Netanyahu will not have a moderate government, which means he will have no government.

With no rotation agreement with Livni, Netanyahu won't have Kadima to save him from himself.

The need to coordinate his moves with Washington through a peace process will be a test for Netanyahu's presumptions of being a patriot, statesman and historian.

After all, Netanyahu believes that Iran's nuclear drive threatens Israel's existence and that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is Adolf Hitler. And the year is 1938, which means the hour calls for a Winston Churchill, who joined the British government unconditionally as First Lord of the Admiralty and a member of the war cabinet.

In local terms, Netanyahu needs to choose between two lines of thought - the line of David Ben-Gurion and that of the less-known far rightist Itamar Ben-Gvir. Ben-Gurion, a giant in security and diplomacy, served under Moshe Sharett until he returned to the prime minister's chair.

If Netanyahu is as good at doing as he is at talking, he would seek to be defense minister in a government made up of Labor, Likud and Kadima, headed by Livni.

The finance or foreign affairs portfolio should go to Ehud Barak in such a cabinet. No one is waiting for Netanyahu's decision on Natanz, off in Iran with its increasing nuclear capabilities.