Defense Minister Gantz's trip to India in jeopardy again

Gantz was unable to find an opposition member who would abstain from votes while he was gone.

 Defense Minister Benny Gantz arrives to a government conference at the Hebrew University Givat Ram campus, on Jerusalem Day, May 29, 2022 (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz arrives to a government conference at the Hebrew University Givat Ram campus, on Jerusalem Day, May 29, 2022
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

With millions of dollars worth of defense deals continuing to be signed between Israel and India, Defense Minister Benny Gantz took off to New Delhi Wednesday evening to mark 30 years of security ties between the two countries.

The visit, which was postponed last month due to a spate of terror attacks and political turmoil, will see Gantz sign a “special security declaration” with his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh followed by a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

While usually when a coalition MK is unable to make it to Knesset, an opposition member will abstain in order to make votes a fair fight, Gantz was unable to find an opposition MK who would agree to do so, meaning if he leaves, the coalition will be unable to pass laws. Journalists who were set to depart with Gantz were sent home on Wednesday afternoon.

Blue and White responded that the Likud decided to act as the opposition to the State of Israel. 

"The attempt to harm the defense minister' security visit to India harmed the security of the state and its relations with one of the world's top superpowers." 

Asked about the Likud by The Jerusalem Post, Gantz said, "I will be okay."

Defense Minister Benny Gantz visits the IDF's drill in Cyprus on May 31, 2022 (credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)Defense Minister Benny Gantz visits the IDF's drill in Cyprus on May 31, 2022 (credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)

This would be the second time the trip has been delayed. The visit was postponed last month due to a spate of terror attacks and political turmoil. Gantz is expected to sign a “special security declaration” with his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh when he can make it to India.

He was expected to be accompanied by the Head of the military exports unit of the Defense Ministry, Brig.-Gen. (res) Yair Kulas, Brig.-Gen. (Res.) Dror Shalom, the head of the political security division of the Defense Ministry, Minister's Chief of Staff, Maayan Israeli, and the minister’s military secretary, Brig.-Gen. Yaki Dolf.

Gantz will return on Friday.

Earlier on Wednesday, Gantz’s trip was nearly postponed again due to fights with the opposition. Blue and White responded that the Likud decided to act as the opposition to the State of Israel.

"The attempt to harm the defense minister's security visit to India harmed the security of the state and its relations with one of the world's top superpowers."

India and Israel gained independence from Britain within nine months of each other, but India voted against the United Nations’ partition plan for Palestine and only recognized the State of Israel in 1950.  

New Delhi’s foreign policy was characterized by a pro-Arab stance despite Israeli military aid to India during the subcontinent's conflicts with China in 1962 and Pakistan in 1965. It wasn’t until 1992 that New Delhi and Jerusalem established diplomatic relations.

Since then, Israel has emerged as a major weapons supplier as well as a key partner in defense research and development.  

Israel has worked with India in areas of counter-terrorism, intelligence sharing, cyber security, as well as border and homeland security and has been supplying India with various weapons systems, missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles over the last few years, making India one of Israel’s largest buyers of military hardware.

Background

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Israel is India’s fourth-largest arms supplier, having exported arms worth $2.7 billion to the country between 2011-2020.

Last year, Jerusalem and New Delhi signed an agreement to develop bilateral technology such as drones, artificial intelligence and more.

The Bilateral Innovation Agreement (BIA) was signed by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chairman G Satheesh Reddy and Israel's Directorate of Defence Research and Development (DDR&D) head Danny Gold.

"Under the agreement, startups and industry of both countries will work together to bring out next-generation technologies and products in the areas such as drones, robotics, artificial intelligence, quantum technology, photonics, biosensing, brain-machine interface, energy storage, wearable devices, natural language processing, etc," India’s defense ministry said in a statement.

The developments will be jointly funded by both the DRDO and DDR&D and will be customized to “meet the unique requirements” of both countries and be available to Israel and India.

The two countries also agreed to form a task force that will build a ten-year cooperation plan to identify new areas in defense cooperation.

The plan, which will include defense procurement, production, and research and development, was agreed upon during a visit by the director-general of the Indian ministry of defense Ajay Kumar.

Gil Hoffman and Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.