While we wish success and longevity to Israel’s 35th government, which was sworn in on Sunday, we cannot but cry foul over the huge amounts of money being spent on everything from a state-funded residence and “Alternate Prime Minister’s Office” in Jerusalem for Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to the large number of cabinet portfolios approved by both Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of the Likud in their “national unity agreement.”The new government is excessive and expensive, an indulgence that Israel can not really afford during this so-called “state of emergency” in which the coronavirus crisis is far from over. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have lost their jobs, with industries from food to tourism collapsing and the number of unemployed surpassing one million. Instead of investing the money to revive the economy and get people back to work, this government is spending hundreds of millions of shekels on itself. That’s simply wrong. Under the coalition agreement, it should be noted, Netanyahu will not only be able to serve as prime minister for 18 months while standing trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, but can continue to serve as “alternate prime minister” during Gantz’s 18-month term as premier – even if he is convicted but the appeal process hasn’t been completed. Then, if both sides agree, Netanyahu is slated to return to the Prime Minister’s Office in May 2023 for six months before handing back to Gantz for the last six months of the government’s term.Just funding the Netanyahus, who have probably been the biggest spenders in the Prime Minister’s Office in Israel’s history, has been exorbitant. Now taxpayers are going to have to foot the bill for the Gantzes too – as well as moving both families at least twice.With the number of cabinet ministers rising after the initial six months of the state of emergency under the rotation agreement up to 34 (and 16 deputy ministers), the new government is set to be the biggest and most expensive in Israel’s 72-year history. This contrasts sharply with the modest cabinets in Israel’s early years. Between 1949 and 1955, the cabinets had only 12 or 13 ministers.In addition to the full cabinet, the security cabinet and the socio-economic cabinet, the government will also be establishing a new “reconciliation committee.”In order to keep politicians in all the coalition parties happy, Netanyahu and Gantz have, inter alia, approved the creation of new ministries for David “Dudi” Amsalem (Minister for liaising with the Knesset as well as overseeing Israel’s budget, cyber and civil service departments), Tzipi Hotovely (Settlements), Rafi Peretz (Jerusalem Affairs, Heritage and National Projects) and Orly Levy-Abecassis (Community Strengthening and Advancement).One of the government’s key first tasks is to pass a new budget in the Knesset to tackle the economic effects of COVID-19. Before the coronavirus outbreak, Israel’s economy was growing and the unemployment rate was at a record low, but it jumped to 27% at the end of April. According to the Finance Ministry, Israel’s economy could shrink between 5.4% and 6.5% this year.Under these circumstances, the new finance minister, Israel Katz, will have a challenging, if not impossible task: To get Israel’s economy back on track while finding the funds for an enlarged state budget, a bloated new cabinet and the financial battle against COVID-19. We can only hope that Katz will safeguard the interests of small and big businesses, the self-employed and the unemployed seeking jobs as he implements the government’s NIS 80-billion economic revival plan.In an interview with Israel Hayom published on Friday, outgoing finance minister Moshe Kahlon blamed the Health Ministry for severely harming the economy by pushing the government to implement a lockdown to contain the coronavirus. “We sacrificed the economy on the altar of health,” Kahlon said.We urge the incoming health minister, former Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein, to be more responsive to the country’s economic situation than his predecessor, Ya’acov Litzman, whose appointment as minister of housing and construction is a huge gamble in a country whose growing population of almost 9.2 million desperately needs affordable housing.Nobody wants to see a return to the economic austerity of the early years of the state, but now is the time for Israel’s new government to set an example by tightening its own belt, not by wasting our money.