It's all good and well for Benjamin Netanyahu and Tzipi Livni to get past their personal issues. But what about their political views? Do they no longer matter? Does the public's opinion no longer count?
It's true that the election campaign is over and we must now get down to the brass tacks of forming a government. But the pairing of Tzipi Livni, who will be appointed the minister in charge of negotiations with the Palestinians, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is like combining oil and water. Unless the masquerade ball known as the 2013 elections holds even more surprises for us.
How can we square the fact that Livni served as foreign minister under Ehud Olmert, who offered to divide Jerusalem, with the positions of Netanyahu who has declared over and over that dividing Jerusalem is out of the question? Has Livni changed her views? Is it possible that Netanyahu intends to change his own views on this issue?
Before the elections, Netanyahu announced that in the course of his next term, no settlements would be evacuated. Tzipi Livni, on the other hand, along with her dovish colleagues (MKs Amir Peretz, Amram Mitzna, Meir Sheetrit) is an outspoken proponent of evacuating settlements as part of a peace deal.
Now that she has been put in charge of conducting negotiations (even though the coalition agreement explicitly stipulates that she will be guided by the prime minister and overseen by a committee of ministers and a representative of the prime minister), will she fight on behalf of settlements in her negotiations with the Palestinians? Perhaps it is Netanyahu who will change his mind, just as he did when he agreed to two states for two peoples? It's unlikely that's what his voters had in mind.
For those who seek to guarantee the future of the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria, there are now new reasons for worry.
The immediate fallout, even before negotiations with the Palestinians, is that the report of the Levy Committee, which was appointed by Netanyahu, will be buried in a pauper's grave. The report examines the legality of settlements and outposts in Judea and Samaria and determines that they do not sit on occupied land.
In her future post at the Justice Ministry, Livni will most likely turn the Levy report into a dead letter. She is also likely to toe the line of the former Deputy Attorney-General Mike Blass, who was hostile to the settlement enterprise. And what about construction in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Har Homa, Gilo or Ramot? Will Livni renew the building freeze in those areas as well?
One way or another, signing Tzipi Livni to the coalition is a new height of political cynicism, even in an election season that has seen many parties outdo each other in cynicism. Politics here is no longer the "art of the possible," but the art of the impossible.
Bringing Livni into the government is a distortion of the will of voters from the nationalist camp. Why is it that we are not even surprised by it?
We have become used to a political culture where promises are negotiable, and political positions can be switched as easily as socks. And if we've become used to this culture, then maybe it's the one we deserve.