As Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday embarked on his three-day trip to Israel, a first by an Indian Prime Minister, the trip is touted as a historical development considering the fact that PM Modi chose not to visit Palestine on the same trip.
Both PM Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu are slated to discuss on various issues ranging from terrorism and ways to boost economic ties between the two nations.
“PM Narendra Modi emplanes for a historic visit to Israel, the first ever by an Indian Prime Minister,” the Prime Minister’s Office tweeted.
In a special gesture, Netanyahu will receive Modi when he arrives at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport. Such a special gesture has been done only for US Presidents, including Donald Trump, and the Pope.
Modi will be in Israel until July 6 before travelling to Hamburg, Germany, to attend the G-20 summit.
India and Israel have enjoyed a long history of extensive economic, military, and strategic relationship ties among themselves. Take a look at what makes this camaraderie so special.
India-Israel in History
India on 17 September 1950 officially recognised the State of Israel as a seperate state. Then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru stated, “We would have recognised they long ago because Israel is a fact”. Following which Israel opened its first consulate in Mumbai in the year 1953.
As the tension between Israel and Hamas was on prime, India took a strong stand and condemned both the sides responsible for the violence and loss of innocent lives. It further asked Israel to stop “disproportionate use of force” in Gaza.
State Head Visits
Though Ezer Weizman was the first Israeli President to visit India in 1997, the relations between the two countries saw new heights with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s visit to India in the year 2003 under National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government led by BJP’s leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The visit by Sharon also courted a lot of controversy with a voice of dissent from leftist and Muslim circles. Even Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) lodged protests against the visit.
In 2000, then Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh visited Israel and signed agreements to launch a joint anti-terror commission.
Defence Ties and intelligence sharing
Israel is the second-largest defence supplier to India after Russia in terms of the military equipment. Notably, the military business between the years 1999 to 2009 India and Israel rose to around $9 billion.
Both India and Israel are also actively involved in intelligence sharing on terrorist groups and joint military training.
Israel also offered to help India with intelligence and forensic after the Mumbai terror attack in 2008.
With India becoming Israel’s tenth-largest trade partner and import source, the bilateral trade between the two nations has grown significantly from $200 million in 1992 to $4.52 billion in 2014. Israel’s imports from India amounted to $2.3 billion or 3.2% of its overall imports in 2014 that mainly included Precious stones, organic chemicals, electronic equipment, plastics, engines, pumps and agricultural equipment.
The two nations in 2010 started free trade agreement between the two countries that covered various sectors, including information technology, biotechnology, water management, pharmaceuticals, and agriculture.
Science And Beyond
In 2003, both countries discussed doubling their investment in their ongoing science and technology collaboration to $1 million each, starting in October 2004.
Later in 2005, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding to set up a fund to encourage bilateral investment into industrial research and development and specific projects. Following the agreement, the two countries in 2012 signed a five-year $50 million academic research agreement for promoting collaborative research under various fields such as social and life sciences, humanities, and the arts.
Israel has also planned to open two agricultural centers in Bihar focusing on increasing productivity of vegetable and mango crops.
The ambitious pet project of PM Modi to clean the Ganga River also saw an Israeli delegation meeting with the Indian officials of the Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation in 2015.
In 2009, India successfully launched RISAT-2 satellite manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries in accordance with ISRO.
With Israeli Prime Miniter Benjamin Netanyahu slated to be personally present to welcome PM Narendra Modi, this visit is expected to take the relations to a notch higher in terms of bilateral engagement.
With terror being the core agenda that will be extensively discussed between the two leaders, PM Modi will want to extend a partnership in agriculture and make in India initiative.
Meanwhile, PM Modi will also meet President Ruven Ruvi Rivlin apart and pay respects to courageous Indian soldiers who laid down their lives during the liberation of Haifa in 1918. He will also meet Sandra Samuels and Moshe Holtzberg, survivors of 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
The visit that coincides with India and Israel marking 25 years of their diplomatic relations, expect both the leaders to pave way to push for a brighter future.