On Tuesday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett postponed his plans of taking a trip to India, a day after he tested positive for COVID-19. This weekend, the Israeli Prime Minister had been scheduled to visit India for marking 30 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. It was not immediately disclosed when he would take the trip in the future. According to the Prime Minister’s office, the premier is feeling well and is isolating at home. Bennett said that he would continue to work from home. This postponement came a day after the volatile security situation in Israel prompted Benny Gantz, the Defense Minister, to also cancel his trip to India.
Within days, Israel has been hit by two terror attacks that have claimed the lives of six people. The two concurrent trips had been announced the previous week and had resulted in tensions between Gantz and Bennett. Gantz’s trip had been scheduled to start four days before the prime minister on Tuesday. The Prime Minister’s Office had been caught off guard by the announcement of the Defense Minister’s trip. Media reports citied an Israeli official who said that Gantz was traveling ahead of the premier in order to upstage him. The unnamed official said that the trip was a ‘childish attempt’ for beating Bennett.
However, sources close to Naftali Bennett talked about the event in a completely different light. According to them, it was Bennett who had attempted to outplay the Defense Minister. Media reports disclosed that Gantz had scheduled his trip to India nearly five months ago. The sources disclosed that Bennett had contacted Modi’s office after hearing about the trip and scheduled a meeting. This incident shows that the offices of the two men have seen a breakdown in coordination. In recent months, there have been clashes between Gantz’s Blue and White Party and other members of the coalition.
There have been a number of coalition crises because the party has become frustrated, with their legislative goals not moving forward. As per Bennett’s itinerary, he had been expected to leave for India on April 2nd. He was scheduled to have meetings with Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister, along with several other officials. He was also planning on meeting members of the Jewish community in India. In November, Bennett had met Modi in Glasgow on the sidelines of the climate conference of the United Nations and the two leaders had exchanged remarks.
While Israel had been recognized by New Delhi back in the 1950s, ties between the two nations had been rather frosty. This was primarily because of the fact that India has a large Muslim population, along with the leadership position it had had in the Non Aligned Movement of the Cold War-era. It wasn’t until 1992 that full diplomatic relations had finally been established between the two countries. This year would mark a completion of 30 years to this milestone, which was why Naftali Bennett had been planning on visiting before he got his positive coronavirus test.