Benjamin Netanyahu is the first Israeli Prime Minister in 15 years to visit India. His visit is crucial not just for India but for Israel as well, especially, because his visit comes at a time when his political standing is at the weakest in his three-decade-long career. Notably, a few days ago, the Israeli PM had found himself embroiled in a scandal when an explosive audio recording of his son Yair Netanyahu leaked. In the clip, Yair was boasting about how his father pushed through a $20 billion gas deal to the benefit of gas tycoon Kobi Maimon. Netanyahu is already under investigation in two unrelated criminal cases, which involve allegations of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Furthermore, India recently scrapped a $500-million-dollar deal with state contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Limited for 8,000 anti-tank guided missiles and also took a stand against the Jewish country in UN over America’s move to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Before leaving for India, Netanyahu had said, “This evening I am leaving on a historic visit to India. I will meet with the PM, my friend Narendra Modi, with the Indian President and with many other leaders. We will sign very many agreements.”
Given the above, the Israeli media is closely following Netanyahu’s visit to India. Here’s how the visit has been covered by the different media houses of Israel:
The Times of Israel has focused more on whether Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu would be able to re-negotiate and materialise the $500-million-dollar defense deal, which India has already scrapped. Its report read, “Netanyahu is eager to revive a cancelled $500 million deal between Israeli arms manufacturer Rafael and India for Spike anti-tank missiles.” Israel exports an average of $1 billion of military equipment each year to India, but Modi wants to end India’s status as the world’s top defense importer. Further, the report highlighted the dual nature of India-Israel ties. On one hand, Modi-Netanyahu bonhomie looks promising and on the other, India takes a stand against Israel in UNSC and scraps arms-deal. “While Netanyahu and Modi have shown off their close friendship via what some have termed the Indian prime minister’s “hugplomacy,” the countries’ ties have been hampered both by India’s continued trade with Iran and Delhi’s recent vote in the United Nations General Assembly condemning US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” the report added.
— ANI (@ANI) January 15, 2018
The coverage by Haaretz brought all the positive aspects of the visit to the fore. A source in the Netanyahu’s delegation even confirmed Haaretz that among the issues discussed between the two leaders, were ‘greater recognition of Israel’s status as a strategic partner of India and an increase in trade and investments by India in Israel’, the report said. It further added that the visit marks a ‘new era’ of friendship between the two nations.
The Jerusalem Post came down hard on Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu. It wrote that Netanyahu might find some comfort in a foreign land as back inside the country (Israel), his position is going thinner with mushrooming new controversies.
A report by The JerusalemPost read, “Netanyahu was keen on making the visit (to India) now. With the news cycle in Israel dominated by stories about Yair (Netanyahu’s son), Sara (Netanyahu’s wife) and alleged scandals involving Netanyahu himself and some of his closest confidants, it is critical for the prime minister that the public see him in his role as a statesman.” The media house noted that the visit is important for Netanyahu politically, because it ‘shifts the spotlight, ever so briefly, from scandals to statesmanship, an area where Netanyahu shines’.