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Farkash-Hacohen tapped as tourism minister after Zamir resignation

In Blue and White cabinet reshuffle, Michael Biton to head Strategic Affairs Ministry in Farkash-Hacohen’s stead

Orit Farkash-Hacohen. (Yanai Yechiel)
Orit Farkash-Hacohen. (Yanai Yechiel)

The Blue and White party announced a reshuffling of its cabinet positions on Friday following the resignation of Tourism Minister Assaf Zamir, an action which threatened to further destabilize an already disjointed coalition.

Orit Farkash-Hacohen, who had been serving as strategic affairs minister, will replace Zamir as tourism minister while Zamir will return to serving as a lawmaker in the Knesset on behalf of Blue and White.

Farkash-Hacohen will resign from the Knesset to free up her seat.

Meanwhile, Michael Biton, who served as a minister in the Defense Ministry, will take Farkash-Hacohen’s spot heading the Strategic Affairs Ministry.

Blue and White MK and former Yeruham mayor Michael Biton, in the Knesset on April 29, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

The reshuffle came hours after Zamir announced he was resigning from the government, citing the passage of controversial legislation this week to restrict protests during the current coronavirus lockdown.

“I can no longer sit in a government in whose leader I haven’t an iota of faith,” Zamir wrote in a lengthy Facebook post, in reference to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Blue and White MK Asaf Zamir, before becoming tourism minister, at a party faction meeting in Tel Aviv on January 8, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Zamir noted that Blue and White had decided to join a unity government with Netanyahu after a third consecutive round of elections in March ended inconclusively — despite having campaigned heavily on replacing him. He said that despite outrage over the move by many Blue and White voters, he had supported ending the political gridlock while trying to influence the government from within.

“I no longer feel that way,” he said. ‎

Zamir was not the first Blue and White minister to express interest in resigning this week, but he was the first one to follow through.

Science and Technology Minister Izhar Shay backtracked from plans to quit the government in protest over lockdown rules late Thursday.

Shay had been set to announce his resignation after a stormy cabinet meeting during which limits on protest attendance were approved. However, after meeting with Gantz, the party put out a statement saying that Shay had decided to remain on board.

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