“Wake up: the most important PM of the world is coming”, is how Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s forthcoming visit to Israel, the first by an Indian premier, is described in an article in one of the leading Israeli business daily.
Business daily ‘The Marker’ in a feature story in its Hebrew edition discussing Indo-Israel ties says that Israelis had set up huge expectations from US President Donald Trump’s visit to the Jewish state but “he didn’t say much” while Modi, a leader of 1.25 billion people enjoying massive popularity and representing one of the fastest growing economies of the world deserves a lot of attention.
Modi’s three day visit starting July 4 is aimed at commemorating 25 years of establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
The Indian prime minister is scheduled to have dinner with Netanyahu following his arrival to Israel on July 4. He would be meeting the Israeli Premier again for discussions the following day. Modi would also call upon Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin on July 5 and the leader of opposition, Isaac Herzog. Around 4,000 people of Indian origin would be attending an address by Modi in the evening of July 5 in Tel Aviv.
Other local newspapers and news portals have also given a lot of attention to the much-publicised three day trip of Modi with ‘The Jerusalem Post’ even creating a separate link, “Modi’s Visit”, where it has put up stories related to India.
India related activities in Israel have also attracted far more attention in view of Modi’s visit than ever before.
International Yoga Day celebrations in Israel saw massive coverage by the Israeli media with some commentators talking about the “soft diplomatic power it arms New Delhi with”.
Most of the local commentators have emphasised on Modi “skipping Ramallah” and it being a standalone visit focussing only on India’s ties with Israel.
“Unlike most world leaders, however, Modi, who governs the world’s largest democracy and second largest nation, apparently is refusing to visit Ramallah during his Israel trip, and will not schedule meetings with Palestinian Authority (PA) chief Mahmoud Abbas or other PA leaders”, Arutz Sheva, an Israeli media network said in a report.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed his Indian counterpart’s visit to Israel last Sunday during his opening remarks at the weekly cabinet meeting as a “very significant step” in strengthening bilateral relations that are on a “constant upswing”.
“Next week, the Indian Prime Minister, my friend, Narendra Modi will arrive in Israel. This is a historic visit to Israel. In the 70 years of the country’s existence, no Indian Prime Minister has ever visited and this is further expression of the state of Israel’s military, economic and diplomatic strength,” Netanyahu stressed.”This is also a very significant step in strengthening relations between the two countries,” he added. governments across the world are looking for cooperation with the country in the areas of hightech and cybersecurity, and the upcoming visit of the Indian prime minister next week marks a change in the country’s status.
Netanyahu added because of continuous efforts in the field of cybersecurity, around 20% of all private investments is coming to Israel. “As we have a lot of startups and have demonstrated success, Israel has become attractive for investment in the cybersecurity space.” Modi too, many times in the past, has spoken about the importance of securing the cyber borders, often saying the next war will be fought in the cyber area.
On Sunday, officials from Israel and representatives from Indian industry body CII held a discussion on potential areas of collaboration between the two countries. Evyatar Matania, the head of Israel National Cyber Bureau, said the two sides have identified three areas of partnership to start with.
“The first will be training of workforce, the other about sharing of information between the two CERTs and the third, to develop strategies especially around regulation,” Matania said.
The Israeli cabinet on Sunday approved major decisions to deepen Indo-Israel ties.
Among the measures proposed include the establishment of a USD 40 million joint fund to encourage Israeli and Indian business cooperation, agreements permitting and extending incentives to Bollywood filmmakers looking to shoot in Israel, efforts to promote growth in tourism, and a joint government project in the fields of water and agriculture. Netanyahu and Modi have already met twice on foreign soil on the sidelines of UN-related events and are said to be constantly in touch with each other over the phone.
India–Israel relations refers to the bilateral ties between the Republic of India and the State of Israel. The two countries enjoy an extensive economic, military, and strategic relationship.
India is the largest buyer of Israeli military equipment and Israel is the second-largest defence supplier to India after Russia. Military and strategic ties between the two nations extend to intelligence sharing on terrorist groups and joint military training.
The defence ties between India and Israel have often drawn worldwide attention and acquired strategic dimensions.
It is believed that Modi’s visit would further solidify security ties as Israeli defence industries have shown greater inclination towards participating in joint ventures to give a boost to NDA government’s ‘Make in India’ campaign.
India is the third-largest Asian trade partner of Israel, and tenth-largest trade partner overall. In 2014, bilateral trade, excluding military sales, stood at US$4.52 billion. Relations further expanded during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration, with India abstaining from voting against Israel in the United Nations in several resolutions. As of 2015, the two nations are negotiating an extensive bilateral free trade agreement, focusing on areas such as information technology, biotechnology, and agriculture.
Prime Minister Modi’s visit has been preceded by several other high-profile visits, including the trip of National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, several senior secretaries, Minister of State for Agriculture S S Ahluwalia-led 11 member multi-party parliamentary delegation and Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba’s five-day visit earlier this month.
All these visits have laid the ground work for several MoUs that are likely to be signed during Modi’s visit.
Yarden Vatikai, director, National Information Directorate, PMO, Israel said during Modi’s visit, the country will discuss possible partnership in the areas of water and agriculture technologies such as desalination and Modi will be shown facilities that showcase the expertise in these areas. “The visit is very special, he is the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel.”