Bibi, untramelled

Israeli political life has always had the capacity to surprise. And almost no one saw Tuesday's deal between Benjamin Netanyahu and Shaul Mofaz coming. With 94 out of 120 Knesset seats, the coalition is now one of the most stable in Israeli history - a statement that few would have thought possible just days ago, when summer elections appeared certain and Mr Mofaz was throwing all sorts of insults at Mr Netanyahu. The two men have been angrily accused of cynicism in reaching their agreement; of all the reactions to the deal, this is perhaps the most bizarre. They are in politics, where cynicism is the universal currency. Whatever the motivation behind the deal, the fact is that Mr Netanyahu is now free to act without having to appease the other coalition members. Until now, the need to keep Avigdor Lieberman and the religious parties on board was his alibi for drift. That has gone; even if every other member of the coalition stormed off, Kadima's backing is more than enough to maintain a stable government. All sorts of possibilities are now being floated: electoral reform, social reform, and progress with the Palestinian Authority. Now we will see what an untrammelled Benjamin Netanyahu is really about.

    Last updated: 7:22pm, May 10 2012