At the opening of the Likud's faction meeting on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outlined the next government's distribution of ministerial portfolios as he sees it: The entire socio-economic issue will be the purview of Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett. Meanwhile, security and diplomacy will be the responsibility of Likud-Beytenu.
From this point forward all budgetary issues — cost of living, real-estate prices, the minimum wage debate, budget cuts, gas prices, workers' rights and the price of cottage cheese — will be the complete responsibility of Lapid and Bennett. The entire gamut of grievances related to the social protests — as well as any due credit — will be placed squarely on their shoulders. Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi, which hold not only the Finance Ministry and Economy and Commerce Ministry but also the keys to the Knesset Finance Committee as well as the Welfare and Social Services Ministry and Housing and Construction Ministry, should receive the utmost support from Netanyahu. The prime minister should afford them a wide margin of maneuverability to pursue whatever courses of action they see fit in these areas.
Netanyahu has experienced being a successful finance minister, receiving total credit and backing from the prime minister, saving the economy, but still emerging as an enemy of the people. This doesn't mean, however, that this will be Lapid's and Bennett's fate. The matter is completely in their hands.
If Netanyahu indeed manages to maintain this distribution, he can free himself to deal with the essential issues — in other words security and diplomacy — almost undisturbed. And as he said himself during the faction meeting, the public isn't focusing its attention on these issues, but they are where our existential interests lie.
During the first cabinet meeting next week ahead of Obama's visit — when the docket will include a possible military strike against Iran, when they will be asked to leave their cell phones outside the room, when the heads of the army and intelligence community arrive to present the various scenarios on the table — Lapid and Bennett will likely come to the quick realization that life isn't an election campaign or even coalition negotiations. Life is elsewhere.
The person who didn't understand this in time is Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz. As a former very senior member of the defense establishment, he should have known how to differentiate between the essential and the political, and that the classified intelligence and operational reports he was exposed to during his 70 short days as a member of the last government could not be turned into a tool for Kadima's election campaign.
Mofaz should have also known that after a political meeting with the prime minister, in which understandings and portfolios were proposed, that he shouldn't have run to Lapid and Bennett to spill the beans, just to join the clique they've formed in the hopes that doing so would assure him a spot in the next government.
It now seems likely that Mofaz, with his two Knesset seats, will have a few years in the opposition to ponder such things.