According to the office of the Defense Minister, he was scheduled to take a flight on Wednesday night to India, after his flight had been delayed a year earlier because the lawmakers in the opposition were not agreeing to offset his absence in the Knesset’s voting session. It is a common practice in the Knesset to offset votes, where an MK from the opposition and a coalition can choose to cancel their votes due to abstention or mutual absence that has been agreed upon. His flight had been scheduled for 3 p.m., but hours before takeoff, a source of the Likud party disclosed that they had no intention of setting off Benny Gantz’s vote.
They did not reveal how the issue was resolved, but according to the office of the Defense Minister, Gantz would continue with his trip and he would go on Wednesday night. His trip celebrates the 30 years of diplomatic relations and security between Israel and India. According to the schedule disclosed by Gantz’s office, he will be meeting Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister, and RajnathSingh, the Defense Minister, on Thursday. Moreover, Gantz is not traveling alone. He will be joined by thehead of the weapons exports department of the Defense Ministry, YairKulas.
The Political Military Bureau’s head Dror Shalom and the military secretary of Gantz, YakiDolef, are also accompanying him. Initially, Gantz had been scheduled to take the trip in late March, but it had been postponed because the West Bank and Israel had been gripped by terror attacks. Opposition lawmakers had decided to go against Gantzafter the right-wing religious allies of the Likud party said on Monday that they would not support any legislation of the coalition. Instead, they had said that their goal was to topple the already-struggling government.
The coalition had lost its majority in the Knesset back in the beginning of April and in the next two months, it has had to deal with several defections. Since then, it has been struggling to gain the majority it needs for getting any legislation approved. It has become extremely difficult where laws pertaining to security are concerned because the Islamist Ra’am party, which is part of the coalition, is not ready to offer its support for them. Therefore, the coalition has no choice, but to rely on the support of the opposition and vote abstention is how it is usually obtained.
In recent years, Israel has been making efforts to strengthen its defense ties with India, particularly relating to the fields of missile and air defense. The country purchases weapons systems from Israel worth billions of dollars, making it one of Israel’s biggest customers in the last few years. Moreover, it has also launched a number of projects with companies in Israel. Other than Gantz, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also had plans of taking a trip to India back in March for celebrating 30 years of relations, but he had had to postpone it after he got infected with COVID-19. His office has not announced a new date as yet.