Indian Prime Minister landed in Israel on Tuesday for a historic visit as he is the first Indian Prime Minister to do so. The day before, the Jerusalem Post reported on Benjamin Netanyahu previewing the visit stating, “This visit will strengthen cooperation in a wide range of areas - security, agriculture, water, energy - in fact, in almost every field that Israeli is involved in.”
For the Israel Hayom, both leaders penned a joint op-ed stating the countries are walking into the future hand in hand –
“This week's historic visit, as we celebrate 25 years of full diplomatic relations between India and Israel, reflects not just the close cooperation of our governments, but also the great sympathy and affinity between our peoples.”
The Israeli media rolled out the proverbial red carpet for Modi with live updates and separate sections of online coverage devoted solely to the visit. A business daily, The Daily Marker in its Hebrew edition proclaimed him as the “Most important PM of the world” contrasting this occasion with the visit of US President Donald Trump who “didn’t say much.”
editorial simply titled ‘Welcome, PM Modi’ lauded the visit in celebration of 25 years of diplomatic ties –
“Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel is nothing short of historic. This year marks a quarter-century of official relations between the countries, though military and technological cooperation stretches back much farther. We welcome Prime Minister Modi, join him in celebrating 25 years of diplomatic ties and look forward to a new era of cooperation and innovation in the ties between our countries.”
Caroline Glick, who was a former advisor to Netanyahu writes in the Jerusalem Post, about the visit being a good opportunity for Israel to take stock and adopt steps to expand its current success into the future –
"Modi’s historic visit is a good opportunity for Israel to understand where it now stands and what it must do to maintain and expand its current success into the future. Whether Israel continues to prosper in security in the company of friendly trading partners and strategic allies is largely in our hands.”
From a historical perspective, in the Haaretz, Khinvraj Jangid writes of how the visit of Modi makes Israel a strong strategic ally–
“As Narendra Modi arrives this week for the first state visit ever by an Indian prime minister to Israel, both he and his host Prime Minister Netanyahu will be marking a significant warming up of ties between the two countries. But it will also express the fulfillment of a long-unrequited desire, dating back to the early days of the Jewish state, for close ties with, and recognition from, India.”
“It wasn’t until 1992 that India established full diplomatic relations and an exchange of ambassadors with Israel. And India's governing party, the Bharatiya Janata (Indian People’s Party), a long-time advocate of Israel in the Indian political system, is likely to anchor India’s ties with Israel with great alacrity.”
Emphasizing the importance and in anticipation of the Prime Ministers arrival, the Jerusalem Post reported on experiences of Indians living in Israel as a sign of cultural and historic ties.
Benjamin Grossman in an op-ed for the Jerusalem Post writes about the development of relations between the countries in new sectors as a result of deeper collaboration –
“India is the largest democracy in the world and anticipated to be the youngest and strongest economy within the next two decades. These characteristics, as well as India’s relations with other countries throughout Asia and our region, and shared values with Israel, position India as a strategic partner and even ally.” “Bilateral relations are increasing in several areas. One can find new fields, like medical, water and sophisticated agriculture technologies, beside the traditional field of defense. At the level of collaboration between the governments, one can find a joint effort to create ‘Start-up India’, based on the Israeli experience with adaptations to the local conditions. “If the master plan is implemented wisely and effectively, one can certainly foresee the increase of the trade between the countries even beyond the goal of 25% within the next four years. Taking into account the power of India and the favorable condition of Israel – this is a strategic goal that can be reached.”
For Ynet News, Dr.Yoav Fromer opines that there is no diplomatic isolation by Modi visiting Israel –
“There is no doubt that the two countries have gotten closer in recent years. This building relationship is both the result of the rise to power of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Modi, which—being a Hindu nationalist party—doesn’t rely as much on the Muslim minority’s support, and the chemistry between Netanyahu and Modi.”
On Wednesday, the Prime Minister met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to discuss wide ranging issues.
Another incident that Israel is keen to address is the attack by Iranian agents against Israeli diplomats in New Delhi nearly six years ago. The Indian government has not yet tried any of the assailants involved. As reported by the Haaretz newspaper, the official line is that the matter will continue to be raised. However, senior officials concede that the Indians have swept the incident under the rug as to not damage Indian relations with Iran, with whom close ties remain in the areas of trade and energy.
For Haaretz, David Rosenberg writes an op-ed in which he cautions those who think Modi’s visit to Israel is in any way a snub to Palestine, but states that they have taken a back seat –
“On paper, India remains friendly to the Palestinians and to Mahmoud Abbas, who New Delhi calls the "president of Palestine", not of the Palestinian Authority. Unfortunately for the Palestinians, the emerging political calculi of India (and China) have marginalized them.”
“While access to Israeli defense and civilian technology has become a key factor for the two countries, the Palestinians’ status as the cause célèbre of the Middle East has declined in the wake of the Arab Spring.”
As the Prime Minister will wrap up his historic visit soon, the trip is seen as one where the cultural and social ties are front and center as captured by this cartoon in the Jerusalem Post.
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