A unity government, but at what cost?

Over 20% of Israelis are unemployed these days due to the coronavirus. A new government should be working to help them find jobs, not working to find jobs for itself.

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) sit in an empty hall in front of President Reuven Rivlin and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein at the swearing in of the 23rd Knesset, March 16, 2020 (photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) sit in an empty hall in front of President Reuven Rivlin and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein at the swearing in of the 23rd Knesset, March 16, 2020
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
Last week Israelis witnessed something rare. Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, who holds the mandate to form a government from President Reuven Rivlin, said he would join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition and serve in his cabinet.
Gantz, the former IDF chief of staff, did so because he understood that Israel is at war. In an interview with Channel 12 News earlier this month, he said that he is willing to “don his uniform and do whatever he is told to.”
“I’ll do everything in my power to help Benjamin Netanyahu and the State of Israel end this crisis,” he said of the continued spread of the novel coronavirus. “If you’d tell me to be the one who directs the traffic at a Magen David Adom drive-in point, I would do that, because that is what the country needs.”
It is rare to find this kind of mamlachtiut (statesmanship) in Israel, and Gantz got it right. It is time to end this crisis as soon as possible and get Israel back on its feet with a stable, solid and wide-as-possible government.
But what is the cost of this union between Gantz and Netanyahu?
While the deal has yet to be finalized, media reports indicate that in order to lure Gantz into the government, Netanyahu offered him to rotate the position of the premiership and to share the number of ministries. Netanyahu will continue to serve as prime minister for the next 18 months, and Gantz will take over the position for another 18 months.
In fact, when the government is sworn in, both Netanyahu and Gantz will be presented as prime minister. This move is intended to show Gantz that “there are no tricks and no shticks,” as Netanyahu himself said last week.
Gantz was also promised to have veto power over the appointment of a new Knesset speaker in case Yuli Edelstein, who refused to abide by a High Court ruling last week, is chosen to fill the senior and prominent position.
Another way to pull Gantz into a unity government was to split the cabinet portfolios 50-50 between the "Gantz bloc” and the “Right bloc” led by Netanyahu
In order to do so it seems that Netanyahu and Gantz are expanding their joint cabinet to be not less than 34 ministers.
Remember that number – 34 ministers, ministries, staff, drivers, offices and budgets.
In comparison, the cabinet in 2013 had 23 ministers. The cabinet in 2015 had 21.
In order to expand the cabinet to such a number it seems that some ministries will be split into two; the Labor and Welfare Ministry will be divided into the Labor Ministry and the Welfare Ministry; the Sports and Culture Ministry will be divided into the Sports Ministry and the Culture Ministry, and the Jerusalem and Heritage Ministry will be divided into the Jerusalem Ministry and the Heritage Ministry. 
And the list goes on.
Are we out of our minds? Is this what Israel needs in the middle of what could turn out to be the greatest economic crisis the country has ever known? Over 20% of Israelis are unemployed these days due to the coronavirus. This is almost a million people.
A new government should be working to help them find jobs, not working to find jobs for itself.
Gantz announced his intention to join Netanyahu’s government last week due to the coronavirus and the need for an emergency government to help lead Israel to safety. Its only purpose in its first stage is to battle the coronavirus. It should invest everything possible to keep the citizens of Israel safe and healthy and to be able to successfully recover from the collapsing economy.
The country doesn’t need 34 politicians driving in fancy cars. It needs elected representatives working around the clock to battle this pandemic.
Does Gantz really think that all these made-up portfolios are necessary at this point? Do we need to spend so much money, when so many people are struggling to survive? Is this why he entered politics?
This is the time to establish a slim, efficient cabinet that will focus on ending this crisis. Gantz and Netanyahu must join hands and put Israel before everything else, and restart their negotiations after this health crisis is behind us.
Israelis don’t need to pay the price of their politics. We anyhow don’t have the money.