Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit India for a day on September 9 and meet his counterpart Narendra Modi. The trip will take place just eight days before unprecedented repeat polls in the Jewish state.
The longest-serving Israeli Prime Minister's Likud party is facing a tough challenge as opinion polls show unfavourable fortunes for it. Netanyahu had created history on July 20 by surpassing Israel's first premier David Ben-Gurion record as the longest-serving PM "The (Israeli) Prime Minister will be in India only for a few hours on September 9 during which he will be meeting Modi. No other significant meeting is yet on the cards but something may be worked out during the coming days, possibly a business meeting," said. The lawmakers voted 74-45 in May to dissolve the 21st Knesset (Parliament) and hold an unprecedented repeat general elections on September 17 after Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government. It is believed that Netanyahu's meet with PM Modi is to help his poll campaign.
A Ha'aretz columnist, Yossi Verter, wrote in an opinion piece that the Israeli PM 'Netanyahu's Out of Luck, but He's Hoping a Photo-op With India's Modi Will Help'.He argued that Netanyahu, tainted with corruption charges needs to fight for his personal survival ahead of a hearing before the state prosecution needs to find a way to make a comeback.
He wrote that that the PM Office in Jerusalem is said to have reached out to their counterparts in New Delhi and requested for an invitation. Netanyahu will land, meet, have his picture taken, market the visit as "very important" for Israel's security and economic interests, complain that the leftist media ignored the trip and upload something to Facebook, the journalist wrote.
As per sources, Israeli asked for an early September visit which was confirmed by the PMO despite India initially suggesting the week August 25 for Netanyahu to arrive to the country. The final date agreed upon is September 9, exactly sixteen years after then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon created history by becoming the first Israeli Premier to visit India. 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.
The Likud party leader had visited India in January 2018, whereas PM Modi had gone to Tel Aviv in 2017, becoming the first Indian prime minister to tour the Jewish state. The Israeli PM had welcomed him at the airport. A picture of two of them strolling barefoot at the Olga beach in northern Israel during Modi's visit to the country in 2017 created waves with talks of 'bromance' in Israel.
(With PTI inputs)