The Israeli President, Reuven Rivlin met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a six-day visit to India, strengthening ties between the two countries.
With a large allocation of spending on defence and increasing focus on international security, it comes as no surprise that Indo-Israeli ties are seeing a revived interest. Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi held a joint press conference with the Israeli head of state in the Presidential Palace in New Delhi, the capital of India. As officials from Israel had earlier shared, the visit aims to bolster bilateral economic, defence and cultural ties between the two countries. PM Modi said, “We noted the strength of our growing defence partnership, and agreed on the need to make it more broad-based through production and manufacturing partnerships.”
India-Israel friendship brings rich dividends for us & strengthens voices of peace, stability & democracy globally. https://t.co/MDbWxTQxek
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 15, 2016
Both Modi and Rivlin condemned terrorism, and vowed to cooperate in the fight against terror, which they agreed was now a global security threat. Modi asserted, “We agreed that the international community must act with resolve and determination against terror networks and states that harbour them. Failure to act and silence of speech only encourages the terrorists.” Rivlin added, “We stand together in defending our people and our values. Israel and India are threatened by terror because we uphold the values of freedom.”
Last year, Indian President, Pranab Mukherjee became the first Indian president to visit Israel since diplomatic ties with Israel had officially been initiated in 1992 under then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao. With continued effort by the current government, Indo-Israeli bilateral cooperation may see a boost. Apart from the main focus on defence and security, other areas of cooperation are also being mooted during this visit by Rivlin. One such is agricultural cooperation, and Rivlin is set to attend the opening of the 2016 Agro Tech exhibition, India’s biennial agro-technology and business fair, along with President Mukherjee. Rivlin stated in the press conference, “Israel and India have changed history before, and it is time to do it again. This is not just a partnership, it is a partnership which is making a difference, in the water we drink, food we eat, technology we use.”
Point of contention remains
India’s continued support for an independent Palestine with east Jerusalem as its capital has been interpreted by some as a banana skin of an issue. A joint statement that saw signatures of over 70 individuals, 30 groups and various networks representing over 1000 organizations across India has denounced Rivlin’s visit. As part of a global movement that endorses Palestine’s call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), launched in 2005, the statement took a critical stance. It stated, “India’s economic linkage with Israel channels our public money through military deals to Israeli arms companies that transform these funds into lethal military technology applied in the oppression, colonisation and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.”
Over 70 people and 30 groups have signed a statement denouncing Israeli president, Reuven Rivlin’s visit https://t.co/r9jTG2J9qs
— The Wire (@thewire_in) November 15, 2016
However, on the issue of Palestine and India’s internationally-expressed stance on the same, Rivlin had earlier shared with PTI, “Friends may not always see eye to eye on everything, and as friends we can agree to disagree with respect and understanding,” further adding “Israel understands and indeed shares India’s desire to see a just and lasting solution to the conflict between us and the Palestinians. But, no solution that may ever be found has a chance of success lest we work now to build confidence between people.”
Despite the persistent issue between the two countries, Israel has pledged more investments in India and reportedly invited the Indian Prime Minister to celebrate 25 years of bilateral diplomatic relations due next year.