Israel PM Naftali Bennett tests positive for COVID-19; India visit doubtful

Bennett, 50, was scheduled to visit India from April 3 to 5 and is not yet known if the visit will be called off.

Published: 28th March 2022 03:44 PM  |   Last Updated: 28th March 2022 03:44 PM   |  A+A-

Israel PM Naftali Bennett

Israel PM Naftali Bennett (Photo | AP)


JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, according to his media adviser.

Bennett, 50, was scheduled to visit India from April 3 to 5. It is not yet known if the visit will be called off.

"The Prime Minister is feeling well and will continue to work from home," a statement from his office said.

"Bennett will hold a situational assessment this morning on last night's terror attack with the participation of Defence Minister Benny Gantz, Internal Security Minister Omer Barlev, Israel Defence Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar, police chief Kobi Shabtai and other officials," it said.

Bennett attended a meeting in Hadera, the site of the terror attack in which two Israeli border policemen were killed and few others injured on Sunday but was seen wearing a mask in the officially released photograph.

Earlier in the day on Sunday, Bennett held a meeting here with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and was unmasked, The Times of Israel newspaper reported.

Blinken then held talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, before flying to the south of Israel for the Negev Summit where he met UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Bahrain Foreign Minister Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Morocco Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry for discussions, it said.

The report further said that Prime Minister Bennett is due to fly to India on an official visit on Saturday.

However, it remained unclear if that was to be affected by the premier's positive test result.

Last week, the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi announced Bennett's visit to India on April 3-5 at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader and former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who himself contracted COVID-19 earlier this month, sent good wishes to Bennett.

"Health before everything. Wishing a full recovery to Naftali Bennett," Netanyahu tweeted.

Hours later, the police said that Police chief Kobi Shabtai had also tested positive and was also feeling fine.

Bennett and Shabtai attended a situational assessment in the city of Hadera on Sunday evening after two Border Police officers were killed there in a terror attack claimed by the Islamic State terror group.

The report said that Israel is witnessing a resurgent wave of coronavirus apparently caused by the Omicron BA.2 strain, but without an increase in the number of people in serious condition.

According to the Health Ministry, 15,596 people were diagnosed a day earlier out of the 99,385 people who were tested.

There were 65,799 active cases, with 290 patients in serious condition, it said, adding that the death toll since the start of the pandemic stood at 10,485.


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