Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has canceled his trip to India, which was slated to take place next week ahead of Israel’s upcoming general election on September 17.
Netanyahu had been due to visit his “close friend” and political ally, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the Indian capital New Delhi for a one-day trip on Monday. The pair were slated to discuss bilateral ties including trade and defense industry deals.
— India Today (@IndiaToday) September 3, 2019
The trip was also seen as part of Netanyahu’s pre-election strategy, playing on the idea that he has “got things done” during his tenure as prime minister and is the only candidate able to represent Israel on the world stage. To this end, campaign posters featuring Modi and Netanyahu have appeared around Israel, highlighting the close relationship between the two leaders.
Spokesperson for Netanyahu, Shir Cohen, said in a statement yesterday that Netanyahu had called Modi to explain the situation, with the two agreeing that, “due to scheduling constraints, the prime minister’s visit would take place after the elections”.
#Israel PM #Netanyahu calls off planned trip to #India, a week before takeoff. Netanyahu and #Modi are close personal friends who often shower each other with public praise and good wishes. Modi's pictures appear on #Likud posters.
https://t.co/flbhMxQ4Qk via @timesofisrael
— Riaz Haq (@haqsmusings) September 3, 2019
The cancellation of the trip at such short notice has, however, prompted speculation that Netanyahu could be planning an alternative visit in the remaining two weeks before the election, or alternatively that a world leader could be planning a last-minute visit to Israel.
Some of the options floated were visits to Israel by US President Donald Trump or Russian President Vladimir Putin, or trips to Washington DC or Moscow by Netanyahu.
The Prime Minister’s Office has, however, refused to comment on this speculation.
(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)