Israeli PM delays India trip after Covid infection

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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addresses the media following his meeting with US Secretary of state Antony Blinken (unseen) at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, on March 27, 2022. (Photo by Jacquelyn Martin / POOL / AFP)

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has put off a trip planned for later this week to India, his office said on Tuesday after he tested positive for Covid.

“Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s trip to India has been postponed and will be rescheduled,” the office said in a statement.

The three-day trip, organised after an invitation from India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had been scheduled to start on Sunday.

It had been set to mark 30 years since the two nations established diplomatic ties, Bennett’s office said.

On Monday, the prime minister’s office said Bennett had tested positive for Covid-19 but was “feeling well and will continue his schedule as planned from his home”.

It was to have been Bennett’s first official trip to India.

Modi visited Israel in 2017 and former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid a reciprocal visit a year later.

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Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, who had been scheduled to fly to India to meet his counterpart in a separate visit this week, also delayed his trip.

India has historically been a vocal supporter of the Palestinians, but it has drawn closer to Israel in recent years, in part via buying military hardware from Israel.

On Monday top diplomats from Israel, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Egypt and the United States met at a landmark summit in southern Israel.

Palestinians say Arab states are betraying their cause by abandoning a decades-long policy of boycotting Israel until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved.

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