Israeli tourism minister quits govt over curbs on protests & ‘Netanyahu’s political interests’

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Policemen detain a man during a demonstration against the Israeli government before parliament passed legislation restricting protests amid a nationwide lockdown, outside the Knesset in Jerusalem, September 29, 2020.
Israel cracks down on protests under Covid-19 ‘emergency’ pretext as country extends lockdown

At the top of Netanyahu’s priorities are personal and legal considerations, the minister claimed, adding that the PM runs the country according to his own political interests. “Netanyahu has no ability to rescue the country from the deep crisis it is in. He led us into it. He is the main responsible for the health, economic and social crisis that threatens us all,” Zamir posted.

The politician is a member of the Blue and White party led by alternate Prime Minister and prominent Netanyahu rival Benny Gantz. He is the first minister from the party to resign from government. Last week, Science and Technology Minister Yizhar Shay also contemplated resigning over the second lockdown, but was reportedly talked out of it by Gantz.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s Likud party accused Zamir of resigning for his own political reasons, as he is expected to run for Tel Aviv mayor in the next election.

A government-backed edict approved by parliament on Wednesday bans Israelis from holding demonstrations more than 1km (0.6 miles) from their homes. The measure tightened restrictions amid a second coronavirus lockdown in Israel, which went into effect on September 18 as the country saw a surge in new infections. The number of new cases has climbed to over 7,000 a day.

The Israeli government has come under heavy criticism for the protest restriction, with many seeing it as a means to block demonstrations near Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem. Protests against the PM and his handling of the economy as well as the coronavirus crisis have continued, even if in smaller numbers. On Thursday, dozens protested in Tel Aviv, and police arrested 12 demonstrators over public disturbances.

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