Editor's note: Aaron David Miller is a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and served as a Middle East negotiator in Democratic and Republican administrations. He is the author of the forthcoming book "Can America Have Another Great President?" The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Aaron David Miller.
With 30-plus governments since independence (average length less than two years), Israeli politics rarely surprises. But Monday's agreement between Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz did precisely that.
In a pre-emptive strike - against his critics, a cynical Israeli press, and, last but not least, an American administration that keeps hoping he's a short-timer - Netanyahu bought himself another 16 months of challenge-free politics, co-opted his main opponent for the price of a deputy premiership, and broadened and legitimized his government for the turbulent period ahead.
While Mofaz looks unprincipled (two weeks ago he said he'd never join a Netanyahu-led coalition), Bibi Netanyahu looks like a veritable statesman and political genius who, for the sake of the country's unity and stability, did the right thing. With U.S. President Barack Obama facing an uncertain political future, Netanyahu has secured his - at least over the short term.
What difference will the new coalition of 94 Knesset members - a virtually unassailable majority - have on the core issues facing Israel?