The three-day strategic visit to Israel witnessed signing of seven agreements related to space, water management and agriculture between the host nation and India, chaired by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that came to a halt with a Dor beach visit.
This marks the first Indian diplomatic visit to the Jewish country in over seventy years, after maintaining a steady relationship with Palestine. “We expected him to visit both Israel and Palestine,” Palestinian Deputy Foreign Minister Tasir Jaradat stated, adding that to “play an important role between the two sides and to be able to spread the message of peace, one should visit both,” on Modi’s decision to drop Palestine off the list on his maiden visit to the region. Palestinians are reportedly “disappointed”, to have a disruption in the “decades long relationship between the two countries.”
“Not to include any visit to the Palestinian side shows the change and the importance of India’s relationship with the Israeli side,” said Mazen Shamiah, a Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry official for Asia and Africa. “We were afraid that the development of the relationship was going to benefit Israel at the expense of India’s moral, humanitarian and historic commitment to its relationship with Palestine.”
Netanyahu’s major goal to “de-hyphenate” Israel’s international relations was successfully observed as Modi offered a cold shoulder towards Palestine, realising Netanyahu’s dreams of creating a separate global identity for the linked Israel and Palestine issues.
The Netanyahu and Modi Bond
The last leg of the tour witnessed a blossoming friendship between the two Prime Ministers who were seen enjoying a breezy time at Dor beach, where Modi was shown the state-of-the-art desalination plan. In 2016, India and Israel had signed an agreement on desalination when the Israeli President Reuven Rivlin was touring in the country. During his visit on Thursday, Modi was also given a demonstration of a mobile water filtration plant at the beach.
אין כמו ללכת לים עם חברים!
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) July 6, 2017
Earlier this year, the two now strategic partners announced several defense deals, including a $2 billion contract for Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. to supply India with missile-defence systems. The trade links between the two were further enhanced when Netanyahu and Modi signed agreements focusing on water, agriculture and space, and established a $40 million fund for research and development projects.
Areas where the India-Israel cooperation can further scale up include agriculture, water resources, science and technology.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 5, 2017
The two countries made plans of promoting Indo-Israel trade relations, signified by Modi taking part in myriad economic trade conventions. Just prior to the visit, the Israeli government passed a 280 million shekel ($79.3 million) budget to promote exports to India.
Interacted with Indian & Israeli CEOs to discuss the immense opportunities in India and the wide scope of India-Israel economic cooperation. pic.twitter.com/9a2Af8IEmJ
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 6, 2017
An increased amount of focus has also been put on harnessing Israel’s technological and anti-terrorism expertise that has earned it new allies especially among developing nations. Indian and Israeli companies signed strategic pacts worth $4.3 billion (excluding defence) on the sidelines of the first CEOs Forum held in Tel Aviv on Thursday. With both Narendra Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu presiding, almost 30 CEOs from both sides promised to support the economic and investment relationship.
Modi, left for the G20 Summit at Hamburg from Israel.