Benjamin Netanyahu plans to visit India ahead of repeat polls

Vastavam web: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who failed to form a coalition after the April polls, plans to visit India ahead of the repeat elections in September hoping that a photo-op with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi will boost his campaign, according to an opinion piece in a leading Israeli daily. Israeli lawmakers in May voted 74-45 in favour of dissolving the 21st Knesset (Parliament) and hold an unprecedented repeat general elections on September 17 after Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government.

“Heading the group was the buddy, Donald Trump. In the most transparent manner, from on high, the White House organised a palsy-walsy visit for Netanyahu, whose highlight was when the President signed a document recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. That was on March 25 and was Trump’s modest contribution,” Verter wrote.

“Pleased as punch, Netanyahu returned to Israel, and on April 1, the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, arrived for a visit. Then, a week before Election Day, Netanyahu flew off to Moscow, where President Vladimir Putin organised a spectacular, Hollywood-style ceremony in his honour, marking the discovery of the remains of long-missing Israeli soldier Zachary Baumel”, he added.

“Only great powers do it for him. And only two haven’t yet had the privilege of offering Netanyahu photo-ops for an election campaign: China and India,” he pointed out. “Netanyahu, who’s fighting for his personal survival ahead of a hearing before the state prosecution on several cases, must find a way to bounce back,” the columnist noted. He said that China was not an option as it is a “tough country, with clear rules”. In view of all this, the PM Office in Jerusalem is said to have reached out to their counterparts in New Delhi and requested for an invitation.

The first request for an invitation for Netanyahu to visit New Delhi was made in January during the visit of Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Sabbath to India. The two leaders were scheduled to meet on February 11 before the elections in Israel but Netanyahu called off his trip to New Delhi due to other engagements. The efforts regarding the visit were renewed after the Israeli parliament was dissolved and fresh elections announced. Netanyahu visited India in January 2018 while Modi travelled to Tel Aviv in 2017, becoming the first Indian Prime Minister to tour the Jewish state, where Netanyahu received him at the airport.