Opinion

Prime Minister Modi all set to take ties with Israel to a historic level

It is being touted as the most important of foreign trips that Prime Minister Modi has or will make in his tenure as the head of the government and rightly so. India-Israel could well be the defining partnership of this century considering how rapidly the world is advancing towards armed disputes and an expanding footprint of terrorism.

Prime Minister Modi will begin his Israel trip from July 4. He will be etched in history as being the first prime minister of India to visit the Jewish state.

Itinerary

Prime Minister Modi will land in Israel on Tuesday. He will first visit the Danziger Flower Farm in Moshav Mishmar Hashiva where he’ll learn about the latest innovations and advancements in floriculture.

He will also be paying a visit to Yad Vashem as a remembrance to those brave Jews who fought against their Nazi oppressors.

He will also lay a wreath in Haifa at the cemetery of Indian Soldiers who fought and died in World War I.

It is expected that he will meet with 10-year-old Moshe Holtzberg, whose parents, Rivka and Gavriel Holtzberg, were killed in the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai. He may also meet with Holtzberg’s grandparents and the Indian nanny, Sandra Samuel, who saved Moshe.

The highlight of the trip will be his community event in Tel Aviv where he will address people of Indian origin. The Prime Minister will address 4,000 to 5,000 people.

The Indian embassy is organizing the event, and making buses available to transport people from all over the country – from Beersheba in the South to Haifa in the North – and from cities such as Ashdod and Jerusalem where the concentration of Indians is large.

Netanyahu Rolls Red Carpet

Prime Minister Netanyahu will welcome Prime Minister Modi at the airport along with the country’s top ministers and officials. This is known as Segel Alef. Netanyahu will be spending the next two days with Prime Minister Modi, accompanying him to an agricultural installation, the Israel Museum and the rally that Prime Minister Modi will address.

This honor that the Israeli Prime Minister will bestow upon Prime Minister Modi is reserved only for the most important of visits – such as that of the US President or the Pope.

Prime Minister Netanyahu wrote in a tweet: “I will accompany the Prime Minister to many events during his visit, as is fitting to honor the leader of the largest democracy in the world.”

Defence Cooperation

Even though India-Israel cooperation has mainly been in the field of defence, this time around defence is likely to take the backseat. Even still, defence will stay in the limelight.

Since Narendra Modi came to power, India has stressed on its defence cooperation with Israel signing some major deals. India’s Minister of state for defense, Subhash Bhamre, says that 7 of the 37 contracts signed by India for the procurement of weapons and military platforms over the past two years were with Israel. This made Israel India’s second biggest source for weapons after the United States.

In April, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) got the largest defense contract in Israeli defense industry’s history with a deal worth $1.6 billion with the Indian Army. Other contracts were bagged by Rafael.

In May, IAI signed a $630 million contract with BEL for a naval version of the Barak 8 aerial defense system for four vessels. India is also likely to obtain 10 armed Heron drones from Israel that will prove to be a game-changer for India.

Ahead of Prime Minister Modi’s visit, several high-ranking Indian officials had already made their way to Israel.

In May, three Indian warships docked in Haifa for three days, and then a month later, Adm. Sunil Lanba, head of the Indian Navy, was in Israel for four days of talks to boost bilateral military cooperation.

Significance of the Visit

Closer ties with Israel will benefit India in the fields of water and agriculture, technology, countering cyber terrorism, defence, counter-terrorism, intelligence-sharing, and other fields.

A unique aspect in India’s relations with Israel is that Israel doesn’t have any diplomatic relations with Pakistan. On the contrary, Pakistan is a threat to Israel. This bodes well for India as Israel offers unequivocal support to India against Pakistan.

Israel’s technology and India’s market; the connection is obvious. Both nations need each other equally, and this visit of Prime Minister Modi will take India-Israel ties to a historic level.


Vinayak Jain

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