Israel, India Look Past Defense to Broaden Commercial Ties: ‘Match made in heaven,’ says Netanyahu


Narendra Modi has created history by becoming the first Prime Minister of India to visit the Jewish nation. Mr. Modi, who arrived in Israel on Tuesday, will be staying in the country till Thursday.

“I begin a historic visit to Israel, a very special partner of India’s.As the first Indian prime minister to do so, I am greatly looking forward to this unprecedented visit that will bring our two countries and people closer,” Mr. Modi said in a statement on Monday.

On the second day of the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister, Modi, after discussions with host Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, sought to balance New Delhi’s traditional ties with Israel’s neighbours by saying India hoped that “peace, dialogue and restraint” will prevail in West As

Israel, India Look Past Defense to Broaden Commercial Ties 'Match made in heaven,' says Netanyahu
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India and Israel today signed seven agreements to step-up cooperation in key sectors like space, agriculture and water conservation after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held in-depth talks with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu.

Prime Minister Modi said, “we are of one view that together our scientists and researchers would develop, build and implement mutually beneficial solutions in the field“.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Department of Science and Technology and Israel’s National Technological Innovation Authority for setting up of $40 million worth India-Israel Industrial Research and Development (R&D) and Technical Innovation Fund.

Israel and India launched a technology fund Wednesday aimed at growing the countries’ business relationship in areas ranging from space research to water and agriculture.

The Israel India Innovation Initiative Fund, or I4F, was announced  by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is looking for military and other technologies as he seeks to move his country aggressively into the digital age. Israel, whose export-focused economy relies heavily on technology, is eager to penetrate India’s market of 1.3 billion citizens.

The two governments on Wednesday announced a strategic partnership for water that focuses on conservation, agricultural use of treated wastewater, and on cleaning the Ganges and other Indian rivers. The sides stressed the importance of defense collaboration and said future deals should include the transfer of Israeli technology, in line with Modi’s “Make in India” initiative. Three separate memorandums of understanding were signed for space research.

The agreements are the centerpiece of Modi’s three-day visit, which began Tuesday, to celebrate the 25 years of diplomatic relations and bring them even closer. The two leaders also said they discussed counterterrorism and cybersecurity cooperation between the two states.

“Our goal is to build a relationship that reflects our shared priorities and draws on enduring bonds between our peoples,” Modi said at the joint press conference.

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the countries establishing diplomatic ties and while discussing this notable occasion, Modi gave an interview on Monday to the newspaper ‘Israel Hayom’ in which he talked about how Indian-Israeli relations could improve. A facet of the relationship gaining attention the attitude both hold toward extremism, particularly of the Islamist variety.

In response to a question about whether both countries are ‘facing the same threat of terrorism’, Modi replied: “India and Israel could cooperate even more closely and complement each other’s efforts to fight with the menace of terrorism.”

Modi reiterated this statement, adding,“We both recognize the threat terrorism poses to our countries and to global peace and stability. India and Israel are committed to working together to fight this scourge.”

India’s quest for armed drones in the absence of a defined strategy for the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has created misconceptions about their utility for India in conducting cross-border strikes or “surgical strikes” against Pakistan-based terrorists.

India’s pursuit of armed drones has led it to order 10 Heron TP drones from Israel and this will likely be the highlight of Indo-Israeli defence cooperation.The armed drones were purchased in 2015 for a reported $400 million. These will be India’s first armed drones, significantly expanding the aerial offensive capabilities of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

They can be used for both surveillance as well as combat and support roles, and can carry air-to-ground missiles to take out hostile targets. The use of UAVs permits Indian policymakers to exercise the use of force while substantially lowering the risk to military personnel and acts as a force multiplier in enhancing surveillance capabilities. This expands the variety of missions the Indian Armed Forces can conduct.

The Indian military hopes that armed UAVs will give it the capability to conduct symbolic retaliatory attacks against Pakistan-based terrorists while limiting the violation of Pakistani sovereignty and hopefully avoiding any escalatory spiral.

In April, the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries announced it had won a deal worth close to $2 billion to supply India’s army and navy with missile defense systems.

The defense deals also include purchasing counter-terrorism technology, something that reflects Israel and India’s shared security concerns, despite their geographical distance. 

Besides this, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Israel Space Agency (ISA) will work together in the development of Atomic Clocks, GEO-LEO optical link, and in Electric Propulsion for small satellites.

Looking to reorient Israel’s economy toward Asia, Netanyahu hopes more deals will follow, setting a goal of increasing exports to India by 25 percent in the next four years. But it may take a while before the Modi-Netanyahu relationship sparks a serious expansion in investment and trade, both of which remain relatively negligible.

Israel, India Look Past Defense to Broaden Commercial Ties 'Match made in heaven,' says Netanyahu
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After calling India and Israel “sister democracies” yesterday, PM Benjamin Netanyahu today described the burgeoning cooperation between the two countries as a match made in heaven.

“This is a marriage made in heaven, but we are implementing it here on earth,” Netanyahu said, drawing a hearty laugh from PM Modi and a round of applause from the audience of mediapersons and diplomats.

The two leaders were addressing a joint press conference after holding discussions on an extensive menu of issues earlier in the day. 

The bonhomie between the two leaders was once again on full display, as they embraced each other and constantly referred to each other as “my friend”. When PM  Narendra Modi invited Netanyahu to visit India, the Israeli premier readily accepted.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a three-day bilateral visit to Israel, the first by an Indian premier, to celebrate 25 years of diplomatic relations and strengthen India’s already close ties with the Jewish nation.

Israel, India Look Past Defense to Broaden Commercial Ties 'Match made in heaven,'
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During his stay,Prime Minister Modi has been kept in the most secure suite in the entire planet. “His suite is secured against bomb attacks, chemical attacks, everything,” said Sheldon Ritz reporters. Ritz is the director of operations in King David Hotel and has been in charge of the entire PM’s visit. “If the entire hotel is bombed, PM’s suite will be untouched, will come down in a pod.” 

Ritz said they cleared out 110 rooms of the hotel to accommodate Modi and his delegation. “We have hosted every US president in this century, from Clinton, Bush, Obama and, three weeks ago, Trump. And now we are hosting Mr Modi.” In respect to Modi’s “vegan” food habits, the hotel made sure the cookies in his suite are eggless and sugarless. Even the flowers are what the Indian delegation wants.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today made an impromptu visit to the grave of Theodor Herzl, who is considered as the founding father of Zionism, at the suggestion of his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu. 

Modi, who visited the Yad Vashem Museum and honoured the victims of the Holocaust, was suggested by Netanyahu, apparently spontaneously, that they visit the grave of Herzl born Benjamin Ze’ev Herzl – which lies adjacent to the memorial. 

Prime Minister Modi agreed on the suggestion and the two leaders visited the marble tomb at Mt. Herzl. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday night gifted his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu replicas of two sets of relics from Kerala, regarded as key artefacts of the long Jewish history in India.

They comprise two different sets of copper plates that are believed to have been inscribed in 9-10th Century, the PMO tweeted.

The first set of copper plates is a cherished relic for the Cochin Jews in India. It is regarded as a charter describing the grant of hereditary royal privileges and prerogatives by the Hindu King, Cheraman Perumal (often identified as Bhaskara Ravi Varma) to the Jewish leader Joseph Rabban.

Israel, India Look Past Defense to Broaden Commercial Ties: 'Match made in heaven,' says Netanyahu
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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi found time between diplomatic appointments to meet one special little Israeli boy in Jerusalem Wednesday: Moshe Holtzberg, 10, survived a terrorist attack on a Jewish center in Mumbai in 2008 in which both his parents and six others were killed.

Moshe, then 2 years old, was saved by his Indian nanny Sandra Samuel, who hid in a room after the two gunmen stormed the house. She later managed to escape with the child. 

Samuel, now 53, was granted honorary citizenship by Israel. She lives in Jerusalem and visits Moshe every Sunday at his grandparents’ home in Afula, about 95 kilometers away.

Modi invited a now bespectacled Moshe with a shy smile and his grandparents Rabbi Shimon and Yehudit Rosenberg to visit India and Mumbai.”Anytime you can come to India, anytime you can go,” Modi told Moshe, holding him close.

Modi’s continued focus on strengthening Indian defense and maintaining his own popularity and power base means he has sought to make deals around the globe. In an April visit to Saudi Arabia and a June visit to the U.S., the Indian prime minister announced greater intelligence sharing with both countries. It is likely that after his three-day Israel trip, there will be a similar announcement.

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