Netanyahu speaks to Modi on India election win, moans about coalition woes

Netanyahu speaks to Modi on India election win, moans about coalition woes

Prime minister tells his Indian counterpart he hopes to meet as soon as they each form a government, notes it is harder to do in Jerusalem than in New Delhi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi Thursday to personally congratulate him, hours after Modi declared victory in India’s general election.

During the call, Netanyahu lamented to Modi, with whom he has a warm relationship, about the difficulties he is having in forming a coalition after winning Israel’s election last month.

“Narendra my friend, congratulation, what an enormous victory. I hope, Narendra, that we can see each other soon, as soon as you form a government and as soon as we form a government,” Netanyahu said in a short video clip of the phone call released by the Prime Minister’s Office. “Well, thank you for your congratulations on my victory, but there’s one difference: You don’t need a coalition, I do, and there’s a big difference.”

With less than a week before the final May 28 deadline for Netanyahu to submit a coalition to the Knesset, negotiations appear to have stalled, and no agreement has been signed with any party.

Without reconciling the conflicting demands of the secularist Yisrael Beytenu and the ultra-Orthodox parties, as well as the other factions likely to join, Netanyahu will be unable to assemble a coalition of at least 61 seats in the 120-member Knesset.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as Netanyahu arrives in India on January 14, 2018. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Earlier Thursday Netanyahu, who has worked to forge close ties with Modi, tweeted his congratulations to the Indian premier on his apparent reelection and said he hoped to further deepen diplomatic relations between the countries.

“The election results further reaffirm your leadership of the world’s largest democracy. Together we will continue to strengthen the great friendship between India & Israel,” Netanyahu wrote on Twitter in Hindi.

The Foreign Ministry also congratulated Modi, with spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon hailing the countries’ “very close relations, based on common values and a deep friendship!”

According to Election Commission data based on votes counted so far, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is on course to win around 300 of 543 elected seats in India’s lower house, surpassing its 2014 victory and crushing the opposition Congress party’s hopes of a comeback.

Modi became the first Indian leader in history to visit Israel in July 2017, with the two states signing deals on cybersecurity and energy. Netanyahu then visited India in January 2018.

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