Finance Minister Bibi Netanyahu's resignation is equally surprising and predictable. The Jerusalem Post's question "Why is Bibi still in the government?" summed it up well - at odds with Prime Minister Sharon over the disengagement, the fact that he hadn't put his money where his mouth is up until now was troubling to say the least.
At the same time however, since being appointed to the post of Finance Minister, Bibi has done sterling work in righting Israel's beleauguered economy. Lauded by many as one of the country's finest Finance Ministers, he has brought about a major reform in taxation, taken on the unions and the banks and set things in motion to drag many of Israel's more arcane and stifling regulations into the 21st century. His resignation was predictably followed by a major dip in the markets which show just how highly he is regarded by those who understand these matters a lot better than those of us who merely appreciate that our salary slips are a little bigger since he set to work.
Staying in a job being done well was a smart thing to do up to a point but at the same time, in order to nurture the political support of the right wing it was important for him to disengage from Sharon before Sharon began to disengage from Gaza.
The crux of the matter of course, is that Bibi isn't happy with the Finance Minister's job - he has bigger fish to fry, his resignation marking the starting point for his campaign for the top job - and therein lies a dilemna - for Bibi, extremely effective as Israel's most screen friendly spokesman and as guardian of the purse strings, made a pretty bad Prime Minister - not as bad as the right-hating media made out, but bad enough for the public to hound him out of office under slogans such as "Anyone but Bibi".
Bibi's move is cool and calculated - he has shown the PM and the public just how important he is for Israel's economic health whilst at the same time sending a message of support to those who will put him back into the Prime Minister's chair - albeit to late to prevent the disengagement from going ahead. One cannot help but feel however, that it is the wrong chair for him right now - that he is better suited to play Gordon Brown than the Tony Blair role in this particular drama.