by Mati Tuchfeld
It will only become clear whether this was the correct move after the Left's euphoria fades, the revelry quiets down and the bride and groom shake the rice from their hair.
If this is how Isaac Herzog conducts negotiations, the Arabs would receive half of Israel. That is what people were saying on Facebook on Wednesday. Herzog and Tzipi Livni undoubtedly surprised everyone with the announcement of their rotation agreement. Unity is a good thing. The public loves it. It sends a positive message and exudes hope. Herzog said this week that it was time to put egos aside and it turns out he truly meant it. That is no small thing these days.
It will only become clear whether this was the correct move after the Left's euphoria fades, the revelry quiets down and the bride and groom shake the rice from their hair. What will be particularly interesting is how the public responds to the disrespect Herzog and Livni showed to role of prime minister, which they treated as an exchangeable currency. What was presented on Wednesday as a great hope to the cheerleaders who came to the Herzog-Livni press conference could turn out to in fact be advanced signs of desperation.
The deeper one delves into what happened on Wednesday in the leftist camp, the harder it becomes to not reach the sad conclusion that the Left is unable to offer an alternative.
While the Right has had a clear leader for some years now, the Left is again trying to find a candidate to represent it. At first, that candidate's name was "anyone but Bibi." This was catchy, but the Left realized this would not hold over time, certainly not over the next three months until the elections. Therefore, the Left needed to produce a new, real candidate, with a head and a body. It searched, but could not find one. Not Herzog, not Yair Lapid, not Moshe Kahlon and certainly not Livni. None of them could fill the void. This led to the strange creature that was put on display on Wednesday.
There are a number of questions that must be asked before the elections. What does this Herzog-Livni couple want? Do they just seek to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or are they also interested in running the country? The role of prime minister is not a game that can be divided in half and leave everyone satisfied.
Also, what will happen if this odd couple wins the elections and brings in coalition partners who also demand a share of power? What if Avigdor Lieberman, for example, wants to be part of a rotation? Considering what Herzog was willing to pay Livni, who has no real electoral base, what would he be willing to pay Lieberman, who heads a party likely to get a double-digit number of Knesset seats? Will the prime minister's seat rotate every three months? As they say at the market, the most costly thing is to sell cheap once.
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