Saudi Arabia remains our strongest partner for energy security

Special Saudi Arabia remains our strongest partner for energy security
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shakes hands with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a bilateral meeting during the G20 Leaders’ Summit in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires in 2018. (File/AFP)
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Updated 25 January 2023

Saudi Arabia remains our strongest partner for energy security

Saudi Arabia remains our strongest partner for energy security
  • India poised to become the world’s reliable partner in global supply chains




Dr. Suhel Ajaz Khan

On the joyous occasion of the 74th Republic Day of India, I would like to extend my warm greetings and felicitations to all Indian nationals, persons of Indian origin and friends of India in Saudi Arabia.

This Republic Day comes amid the ongoing celebrations for Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, commemorating 75 years of India’s independence and its achievements, and also Amrit Kaal, in the lead up to [email protected]

As a comparatively young nation, India has emerged as one of the leading countries on the global stage in terms of educational, scientific, technological and economic progress, making it one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

The country has been guided in this journey by its core democratic principles of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity, as it has evolved into a truly pluralistic society that embraces diversity and is committed to providing equal opportunities for all its citizens.

At the same time, the age-old philosophy of Indian civilization, including “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” the idea that “the world is one family,” has continued to guide us and shape our approach to the world.

India is a proponent of reformed multilateralism and advocates for a democratic, rules-based and fair international order that emphasizes respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and equality of all nations, irrespective of size, population and military might.

India, as the largest democracy in the world, as one of the top economies in the world and as a voice of the Global South, has rightful aspirations to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

As the world gradually recovers from the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is looking keenly at the growth story of a technology-enabled India, which has displayed an appetite for innovation and the adoption of technology, digitalization and automation. India is poised to become the world’s reliable partner in global supply chains.

It is estimated that India’s gross domestic product growth will be 7 percent this fiscal year, outpacing other major developing economies. India is now a $3.1 trillion economy, making it the fifth-largest in the world, and is well on course to becoming a $5 trillion economy.

India and Saudi Arabia have been friends for centuries and the bilateral relationship is based on mutual respect, trust and warmth. Since independence, India’s relations with the Kingdom have progressively evolved into a multifaceted and mutually beneficial strategic partnership encompassing several key areas of engagement, which include cultural exchanges, defense and security cooperation, trade and investments, healthcare, technology, energy security and food security. The large Indian diaspora has also contributed positively to the development journey of Saudi Arabia.

In recent years, bilateral commercial relations between India and the Kingdom have charted an unprecedented trajectory of growth, with an increasing number of business engagements in diverse fields.

Official statistics show that India is the second-largest trade partner for Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth-largest trade partner. In the current financial year, our trade figures, from April to November 2022, have already surpassed $36 billion, with year-on-year growth of more than 30 percent. Indian exports to Saudi Arabia were worth nearly $7 billion and imports from the Kingdom were valued at more than $29 billion.

Major Indian exports to Saudi Arabia include engineering goods, petroleum products, chemicals, cereals and food items, among other things. Saudi exports to India include mineral fuels, fertilizers, chemicals, plastics and more. Saudi Arabia remains our strongest partner for energy security.

Thanks to the flourishing opportunities that have emerged as part of Saudi Vision 2030 and Indian initiatives such as “Atmanirbhar Bharat” and “Make in India,” the bilateral exchange of investment has also expanded to include a variety of sectors in both economies.

Guided by the leadership’s vision, the Indian Embassy in Riyadh is working toward developing a comprehensive bilateral economic partnership comprising diverse and voluminous trade and investment ties. In this endeavor, the Council for Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Saudi-India Business Council have been constant partners for us.

During the visit by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to India in 2019, the SIBC signed a memorandum of understanding with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry to expand bilateral trade relations.

In addition to the FICCI, other Indian trade promotion organizations, including the Confederation of Indian Industry, the Trade Promotion Council of India, and the National Association of Software and Service Companies, among others, are also keen to work with Saudi organizations to leverage the complementary strengths of both nations and further cement our economic ties.

We look forward to continuing to work closely with our Saudi partners to actualize the opportunities identified under the framework of the Strategic Partnership Council.

Bilateral engagements are expected to increase this year, as India has assumed the chairmanship of the G20. The theme of India’s G20 presidency is “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” — One Earth, One Family, One Future — and the country will host more than 200 meetings in more than 50 cities across 32 workstreams.

The Indian presidency of the G20 provides an opportunity for India and Saudi Arabia to cooperate closely in this important, multilateral domain in service of mutual interests.

India is also the chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s Council of Heads of State, of which the Kingdom is a dialogue partner. This forum provides another platform for working together to achieve our shared objectives for the region.

India and Saudi Arabia are prominent G20 economies and enjoy a host of economic partnership avenues within the framework of the organization. As part of its ongoing G20 presidency, India is keen to explore potential opportunities for economic engagement with all of its G20 partners, including Saudi Arabia, in priority sectors such as health, infrastructure, education, startups, and attainment of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Last year, multiple high-level visits on both sides enhanced the momentum of our burgeoning bilateral engagements. In August, Mansukh Mandivya, the Indian minister of health and family welfare and minister of chemicals and fertilizers, visited Saudi Arabia and had discussions with the Saudi leadership and private stakeholders about broadening our engagement in both the health and fertilizer sectors.

In September, S. Jaishankar, India’s external affairs minister, and Piyush Goyal, the commerce and industry minister, visited Riyadh and participated, respectively, in the ministerial meetings of the political and economic committees of the Saudi-Indian Strategic Partnership Council.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the Saudi minister of energy, and Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf, the secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, visited India in October and November last year.

In addition to a traditionally strong energy partnership, as part of which Saudi Arabia is one of the largest suppliers of crude oil and liquefied natural gas to India, both countries are keen to expand bilateral ties to include new and novel areas of cooperation such as power grid interconnection, financial technology projects, green hydrogen, sustainable building materials, startup collaborations and Export-Import Bank of India projects.

Both sides are committed to removing barriers to trade and addressing regulatory issues to further increase bilateral trade and investment. India is also in discussions with GCC authorities for the resumption of Free Trade Agreement negotiations, which will enable us to gain from unrealized potential in terms of economic opportunities in Saudi Arabia, in particular, and the wider region, in general.

In the domain of bilateral defense ties, a number of things are happening. In 2022, a record number of ships visited Saudi Red Sea ports, and there was maritime cooperation in the form of naval exercises and seminars.

We are committed to expanding bilateral defense ties in the fields of emerging technologies, cybersecurity, electronic warfare, unmanned aerial systems, and space. Convergence in defense industry initiatives is also underway, in sync with the Vision 2030 and Self Reliant India policies of the two countries.

In the field of education, India and Saudi Arabia have several avenues of engagement, particularly within the context of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and India’s New Education Policy 2020. Several Saudi universities are keen to forge meaningful collaborations with reputed institutions of higher learning in India, including the Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Management, the Indian Institute of Science, and leading universities.

Saudi Arabia hosts about 2.3 million Indians whose contribution to the socioeconomic development and cultural enrichment of the Kingdom is widely acknowledged and appreciated. Over the years, the profile of the Indian diaspora in the Kingdom has diversified significantly to include entrepreneurs, investors, bankers and CEOs of companies, in addition to doctors, engineers and academics.

The Indian diaspora in Saudi Arabia has emerged as a major source of foreign remittances in India. The diaspora also acts as a bridge between the two countries and plays an important role in strengthening bilateral relations.

As we commemorate 75 years of diplomatic ties between India and Saudi Arabia, I would like to avail myself of this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for guiding the bilateral relationship in a new direction and enabling the two countries to realize the full potential that exists between them. Indian leadership is also fully committed to making our relationship stronger and more diversified.

I am honored and fortunate to have been given the important assignment as ambassador of India to Saudi Arabia at this exciting time in our relations. I am already touched by the warmth and affection shown to me by various senior Saudi officials immediately upon my arrival here.

I look forward to receiving support from all our Saudi friends, in both the government and private sectors, and also to partnering with the Indian community in the Kingdom to take our relationship to new and greater heights.

Long live the India-Saudi relationship.

 

Dr. Suhel Ajaz Khan

India’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia.


British workers stage largest strike in history of health service

British workers stage largest strike in history of health service
Updated 8 sec ago

British workers stage largest strike in history of health service

British workers stage largest strike in history of health service
  • Biggest strike in 75-year history of National Health Service
  • Government urges workers to call off walkouts
LONDON: Health workers in Britain began their largest strike on Monday, as tens of thousands of nurses and ambulance workers walk out in an escalating pay dispute, putting further strain on the state-run National Health Service (NHS).
Nurses and ambulance workers have been striking separately on and off since late last year but Monday’s walkout involving both, largely in England, is the biggest in the 75-year history of the NHS.
Nurses will also strike on Tuesday, while ambulance staff will walk out on Friday and physiotherapists on Thursday, making the week probably the most disruptive in NHS history, its Medical Director Stephen Powis said.
Health workers are demanding a pay rise that reflects the worst inflation in Britain in four decades, while the government says that would be unaffordable and cause more price rises, and in turn, make interest rates and mortgage payments rise.
Around 500,000 workers, many from the public sector, have been staging strikes since last summer, adding to pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to resolve the disputes and limit disruption to public services such as railways and schools.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) trade union wrote to Sunak over the weekend asking him to bring the nursing strike “to a swift close” by making “meaningful” pay offers.
“We’ve got one of the busiest winters we have ever had with record levels of funding going into the NHS to try and manage services,” Maria Caulfield, the minister for mental health and women’s health strategy, told Sky News on Monday.
“So every percent of a pay increase takes money away.”
The government has urged people to continue to access emergency services and attend appointments during the strikes unless they had been canceled but said patients would face disruption and delays.
NURSES LEAVING
The NHS, a source of pride for most Britons, is under extreme pressure with millions of patients on waiting lists for operations and thousands each month failing to receive prompt emergency care.
The RCN says a decade of poor pay has contributed to tens of thousands of nurses leaving the profession — 25,000 over just the last year — with the severe staffing shortages impacting patient care.
The RCN initially asked for a pay rise of 5 percent above inflation and has since said it could meet the government “half way,” but both sides have failed to reach agreement despite weeks of talks.
Meanwhile, thousands of ambulance workers represented by the GMB and Unite trade unions are set to strike on Monday in their own pay dispute. Both unions have announced several more days of industrial action.
Not all ambulance workers will strike at once and emergency calls will be attended to.
In Wales, nurses and some ambulance workers have called off strikes planned for Monday as they review pay offers from the Welsh government.
Sunak said in a TalkTV interview last week he would “love to give the nurses a massive pay rise” but said the government faced tough choices and that it was funding the NHS in other areas such as by providing medical equipment and ambulances.

Hong Kong’s largest national security trial opens

Hong Kong’s largest national security trial opens
Updated 13 min 45 sec ago

Hong Kong’s largest national security trial opens

Hong Kong’s largest national security trial opens
  • Rights groups and observers say the trial illustrates how the legal system is being used to crush what remains of the opposition
  • The trial is being heard in an open court but without a jury, a departure from the city’s common law tradition
HONGKONG: Hong Kong’s largest national security trial opened Monday with dozens of pro-democracy figures accused of trying to topple the government in a case critics say reflects the criminalization of dissent in the Chinese territory.
The 47 defendants, who include some of the city’s most prominent activists, face up to life in prison if convicted.
Sixteen have pleaded not guilty to charges of “conspiracy to commit subversion” over an unofficial primary election.
The other 31 have pleaded guilty and will be sentenced after the trial.
A rare, small protest erupted before the court convened, despite the large police presence.
One man was seen raising his fist in solidarity.
The defendants maintain they are being persecuted for routine politics, while rights groups and observers say the trial illustrates how the legal system is being used to crush what remains of the opposition.
Most of the group have already spent nearly two years behind bars.
They now face proceedings expected to last more than four months, overseen by judges handpicked by the government.
The case is the largest to date under the national security law, which China imposed on Hong Kong after huge democracy protests in 2019 brought tear gas and police brawls onto the streets of the Asian financial hub.
Wielded against students, unionists and journalists, the law has transformed the once-outspoken city.
More than 100 people had queued outside the court, some overnight, hoping to see the trial begin on Monday.
Chan Po-ying, a veteran campaigner and wife of defendant “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, joined supporters carrying a banner that read “Crackdown is shameless” and “Immediately release all political prisoners.”
“This is political persecution,” she said outside the court.
Inside, Leung repeated his not-guilty plea, adding: “Resisting tyranny is not a crime.”
Those on trial represent a cross-section of Hong Kong’s opposition — including activists Joshua Wong and Lester Shum, professor Benny Tai and former lawmakers Claudia Mo and Au Nok-hin.
Most — 34 out of 47 — have been denied bail, while the few released from custody must abide by strict conditions, including speech restrictions.
Families of the accused have called these measures “social death.”
The group was jointly charged in March 2021 after organizing an unofficial primary a year earlier.
Their stated aim was to win a majority in the city’s legislature, which would allow them to push the protesters’ demands and potentially force the resignation of Hong Kong’s leader.
According to prosecutors, this was tantamount to trying to bring down the government.
“This case involves a group of activists who conspired together and with others to plan, organize and participate in seriously interfering in, disrupting or undermining (the government)... with a view to subverting the State power,” the prosecution said in its opening statement.
More than 610,000 people — about one-seventh of the city’s voting population — cast ballots in the primary. Shortly afterwards, Beijing brought in a new political system that strictly vetted who could stand for office.
The case has attracted international criticism, and diplomats from 12 countries including the United States, Britain, Australia and France were seen at the court Monday.
“This is a retaliation against all the Hong Kongers who supported the pro-democratic camp,” Eric Lai, a fellow of Georgetown University’s Center for Asian Law, told AFP of the trial.
“Beijing will go all out — even weaponizing the laws and court — to make sure democratic politics in Hong Kong cannot go beyond the lines it drew.”
The trial is being heard in an open court but without a jury, a departure from the city’s common law tradition.
“It is as if the national security law is now the new constitution for Hong Kong and the judges are playing their role in making sure that happens,” said Dennis Kwok, Hong Kong’s former legal sector legislator.
Weeks before the hearing began, Hong Kong’s Chief Justice Andrew Cheung defended the courts against accusations of politicization.
“Whilst inevitably the court’s decision may sometimes have a political impact, this does not mean the court has made a political decision,” Cheung said.

China accuses US of indiscriminate use of force over balloon

China accuses US of indiscriminate use of force over balloon
Updated 06 February 2023

China accuses US of indiscriminate use of force over balloon

China accuses US of indiscriminate use of force over balloon

BEIJING: China on Monday accused the United States of indiscriminate use of force when the American military shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon Saturday, saying that had “seriously impacted and damaged both sides’ efforts and progress in stabilizing Sino-US relations.”
The US shot down a balloon off the Carolina coast after it traversed sensitive military sites across North America. China insisted the flyover was an accident involving a civilian aircraft.
Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng said he lodged a formal complaint with the US Embassy on Sunday over the “US attack on a Chinese civilian unmanned airship by military force.”
“However, the United States turned a deaf ear and insisted on indiscriminate use of force against the civilian airship that was about to leave the United States airspace, which obviously overreacted and seriously violated the spirit of international law and international practice,” Xie said.
The presence of the balloon in the skies above the US dealt a severe blow to already strained US-Chinese relations that have been in a downward spiral for years. It prompted Secretary of State Antony Blinken to abruptly cancel a high-stakes Beijing trip aimed at easing tensions.
Xie repeated China’s insistence that the balloon was a Chinese civil unmanned airship that blew into US mistake, calling it “an accidental incident caused by force majeure.”
China would “resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies, resolutely safeguard China’s interests and dignity and reserve the right to make further necessary responses,” he said.
US President Joe Biden issued the shootdown order after he was advised that the best times for the operation would be when it was over water, US officials said. Military officials determined that bringing down the balloon over land from an altitude of 60,000 feet (18,000 meters) would pose an undue risk to people on the ground.
“What the US has done has seriously impacted and damaged both sides’ efforts and progress in stabilizing Sino-US relations since the Bali meeting,” Xie said, referring to the recent meeting between Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Indonesia that many hoped would create positive momentum for improving ties that have spiraled to their lowest level in years.
The sides are at odds over a range of issues from trade to human rights, but Beijing is most sensitive over alleged violations by the US and others of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Beijing strongly protests military sales to Taiwan and visits by foreign politicians to the island, which it claims as Chinese territory to be recovered by force if necessary.
It reacted to a 2022 visit by then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by firing missiles over the island and staging threatening military drills seen as a rehearsal for an invasion or blockade. Beijing also cut off discussion with the US on issues including climate change that are unrelated to military tensions.
Last week, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson warned Pelosi’s successor, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, not to travel Taiwan, implying China’s response would be equally vociferous.
“China will firmly defend its sovereignty, security and development interests,” Mao Ning said. McCarthy said China had no right to dictate where and when he could travel.
China also objects when foreign military surveillance planes fly off its coast in international airspace and when US and other foreign warships pass through the Taiwan Strait, accusing them of being actively provocative.
In 2001, a US Navy plane conducting routine surveillance near the Chinese coast collided with a Chinese fighter plane, killing the Chinese fighter pilot and damaging the American plane, which was forced to make an emergency landing at a China naval air base on the southern Chinese island province of Hainan.
China detained the 24-member US Navy aircrew for 10 days until the US expressed regret over the Chinese pilot’s death and for landing at the base without permission.
The South China Sea is another major source of tension. China claims the strategically key sea virtually in its entirety and protests when US Navy ships sail past Chinese military features there.
At a news conference Friday with his South Korean counterpart, Blinken said “the presence of this surveillance balloon over the United States in our skies is a clear violation of our sovereignty, a clear violation of international law, and clearly unacceptable. And we’ve made that clear to China.”
“Any country that has its airspace violated in this way I think would respond similarly, and I can only imagine what the reaction would be in China if they were on the other end,” Blinken said.
China’s weather balloon excuse should be dismissed outright, said Oriana Skylar Mastro, an expert on Chinese military affairs and foreign policy at Stanford University.
“This is like a standard thing that countries often say about surveillance assets,” Mastro said.
China may have made a mistake and lost control of the balloon, but is was unlikely to have been a deliberate attempt to disrupt Blinken’s visit, Mastro said.
For the US administration, the decision to go public and then shoot down the balloon marks a break from its usual approach of dealing with Beijing on such matters privately, possibly in hopes of changing China’s future behavior.
However, Mastro said, it was unlikely that Beijing would respond positively.
“They’re probably going to dismiss that and continue on as things have been. So I don’t see a really clear pathway to improved relations in the foreseeable future.”


Landmark Hong Kong national security trial starts 2 years after arrests

Landmark Hong Kong national security trial starts 2 years after arrests
Updated 06 February 2023

Landmark Hong Kong national security trial starts 2 years after arrests

Landmark Hong Kong national security trial starts 2 years after arrests
  • The 31 who pleaded guilty, including former law professor Benny Tai and activist Joshua Wong, will be sentenced after the trial
  • Western governments have criticized the 2020 national security law as a tool to crush dissent in the former British colony

HONG KONG: Sixteen Hong Kong pro-democracy figures face trial on Monday, more than two years after their arrest, in what some observers say is a landmark case for the city’s judicial independence under a national security law imposed by Beijing.
The defendants are those who pleaded not guilty out of 47 arrested in a dawn raid in January 2021 and charged with conspiracy to commit subversion for participating in an unofficial primary election in 2020.
Thirteen of those arrested were granted bail in 2021, while the other 34 — including 10 who pleaded not guilty — have been in pre-trial custody on national security grounds.
Western governments have criticized the 2020 national security law as a tool to crush dissent in the former British colony. Chinese and Hong Kong authorities say the law, which punishes subversion, collusion with foreign forces and terrorism with up to life in prison, has brought stability to the Asian financial hub after huge pro-democracy protests in 2019.
Prosecutors have described the primary election — held to select the strongest candidates to contest an upcoming legislative election — as a “vicious plot” to subvert the government and to wreak “mutual destruction” on the city by taking control of the city’s parliament.
The lengthy, high-profile case has drawn international criticism, as government prosecutors repeatedly requested more time to prepare legal documents and gather more evidence.
“This trial is not simply a trial against the 47 opposition leaders but also a trial for the population who has been supporting the pro-democracy movement for decades,” Eric Lai, a fellow at Georgetown Center for Asian Law in Washington, told Reuters.
The trial is expected to last 90 days, with three defendants expected to testify against the others, prosecutors say.
Those who have pleaded not guilty include former journalist Gwyneth Ho, activist Owen Chow, former lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung, and labor unionist Winnie Yu.
“The actual people who need to go on trial are absolutely not us,” Chow wrote on his Facebook page in September. “We’re not guilty at all.”
The 31 who pleaded guilty, including former law professor Benny Tai and activist Joshua Wong, will be sentenced after the trial.
Among a number of departures from established common law procedures, Secretary for Justice Paul Lam refused the defendants a jury trial. The case will be heard by three High Court judges designated under the national security law: Andrew Chan, Alex Lee and Johnny Chan.
Pretrial proceedings were largely kept out of the public eye until Judge Lee agreed to lift reporting restrictions in August.

 


Putin promised not to kill Zelensky: Former Israeli PM

Putin promised not to kill Zelensky: Former Israeli PM
Updated 06 February 2023

Putin promised not to kill Zelensky: Former Israeli PM

Putin promised not to kill Zelensky: Former Israeli PM
  • Bennett said that during his mediation, Putin dropped his vow to seek Ukraine’s disarmament and Zelensky promised not to join NATO

TEL AVIV, Israel: A former Israeli prime minister who served briefly as a mediator at the start of Russia’s war with Ukraine says he drew a promise from the Russian president not to kill his Ukrainian counterpart.
Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett emerged as an unlikely intermediary in the war’s first weeks, becoming one of the few Western leaders to meet President Vladimir Putin during the war in a snap trip to Moscow last March.
While Bennett’s mediation efforts appear to have done little to end the bloodshed that continues until today, his remarks, in an interview posted online late Saturday, shed light on the backroom diplomacy and urgent efforts that were underway to try to bring the conflict to a speedy conclusion in its early days.
In the five-hour interview, which touched on numerous other subjects, Bennett says he asked Putin about whether he intended to kill Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“I asked ‘what’s with this? Are you planning to kill Zelensky?’ He said ‘I won’t kill Zelensky.’ I then said to him ‘I have to understand that you’re giving me your word that you won’t kill Zelensky.’ He said ‘I’m not going to kill Zelensky.’”
Bennett said he then called Zelensky to inform him of Putin’s pledge.
“’Listen, I came out of a meeting, he’s not going to kill you.’ He asks, ‘are you sure?’ I said ‘100 percent he won’t kill you.’“
Bennett said that during his mediation, Putin dropped his vow to seek Ukraine’s disarmament and Zelensky promised not to join NATO.
There was no immediate response from the Kremlin, which has previously denied Ukrainian claims that Russia intended to assassinate Zelensky.
Reacting to Bennett’s comments in his widely reported interview, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote Sunday on Twitter: “Do not be fooled: He is an expert liar. Every time he has promised not to do something, it has been exactly part of his plan.”
Bennett, a largely untested leader who had served as prime minister for just over six months when the war broke out, unexpectedly thrust himself into international diplomacy after he had positioned Israel into an uncomfortable middle ground between Russia and Ukraine. Israel views its good ties with the Kremlin as strategic in the face of threats from Iran but it aligns itself with Western nations and also seeks to show support for Ukraine.
An observant Jew and little known internationally, he flew to Moscow for his meeting with Putin during the Jewish Sabbath, breaking his religious commitments and putting himself at the forefront of global efforts to halt the war.
But his peacemaking efforts did not appear to take off and his time in power was short-lived. Bennett’s government, an ideologically diverse union that sent current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into a brief political exile, collapsed in the summer over infighting. Bennett stepped away from politics and is now a private citizen.