These critics miss the point.
Setting aside the broken promises and heated rhetoric that have come to characterize the dysfunction of Israeli politics, the unity deal will create a unique moment of centrist, political stability in the government. It will allow the government to address some of the more fundamental problems the state faces – including the moribund peace process with Palestinians – without a veto threat from the far-right parties, who until now could topple the government if they bolted the coalition.
While the 94-seat-strong super-coalition is unlikely to remain fully intact until October 2013, when regularly scheduled elections are planned, there is a good chance it will survive with more than 61 seats. The reason is that centrist parties – Netanyahu’s Likud, Kadima, and Ehud Barak’s Independence, which broke away from Labor last year – comprise 60 seats of the coalition in and of themselves. They need only one other party, or one other member of the Knesset to pass their laws.
With those numbers, they have a giant buffer to move ahead with tough proposals supported by most Israelis, even if right-wing parties like Yisrael Beiteinu or religious parties like Shas object, and drop out of the new coalition.
The scale of this political power is clear in the ambitious priorities Netanyahu and Mofaz laid out in their agenda. In the next 17 months, they said at the press conference announcing their agreement, they hope to address four difficult, controversial issues.