Tourism Minister Asaf Zamir resigns over PM Netanyahu's failure to handle the coronavirus pandemic.

Israeli police take protesters into custody during a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, demanding his resignation over corruption cases and his failure to combat the coronavirus pandemic in Tel Aviv, Israel on October 02, 2020.
Israeli police take protesters into custody during a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, demanding his resignation over corruption cases and his failure to combat the coronavirus pandemic in Tel Aviv, Israel on October 02, 2020. (AA Archive)

Asaf Zamir, Israel's tourism minister, has resigned from his post citing a lack of trust in the country's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Zamir is a member of the Blue and White party led by Benny Gantz, who is the country's defence minister.

"This morning I called Benny Gantz and informed him of my resignation from my position as a minister in the government. I can no longer continue in a government in whose leader I do not have the slightest confidence," Zamir said in a tweet.

"Having been part of this government for over four months, I, unfortunately, can state that the coronavirus crisis, with all its consequences, comes, at best, second on the prime minister's list of priorities."

READ MORE: Israelis demand Netanyahu's resignation in fresh protest

Blow to PM

The minister's resignation is another blow to Netanyahu, who is already facing corruption charges in cases that include bribery, breach of trust, and fraud.

Netanyahu, who has denied any wrongdoing, formed a national unity government with Gantz in April this year.

The agreement was reached due to a persistent deadlock between the two that led to three elections being held in the course of a year.

READ MORE: Israelis keep up protests against Netanyahu

Covid-19 crisis

The coronavirus crisis is fuelling the protest movement. After controlling the virus in its first stages in the spring, Israel reopened the economy too fast in May, leading to a spike of cases.

Business owners, day-to-day workers, and smaller, vulnerable entrepreneurs who were hard hit by the pandemic-triggered closures take part in anti-Netanyahu demonstrations.

The unemployment rate is hovering over 20 percent.

Netanyahu's three corruption cases also have added momentum to the protests. Last year, he was charged with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.

Many protesters say Netanyahu should not serve as a prime minister at a time when he is on trial for serious charges.

In January, his trial will move to a witness phase with three sessions a week.

READ MORE: Five things to know about Netanyahu administration's corruption cases

Source: TRTWorld and agencies