Then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had visited India in September 2003 and met with then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Fourteen years on, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the first Indian PM to visit Israel, the two sides elevated it to a “strategic partnership” after some negotiations that went on until the last moment. A breakdown of the joint statements on various issues:
The 2003 joint statement was arrived at in the backdrop of 9/11 attacks on the US. While the two countries were on the same page on terrorism emerging from Pakistan, the congruence of views has been maintained in the 2017 statement.
2003: Terrorism undermines the very foundation of freedom and democracy, endangers the continued existence of open and democratic societies and constitutes a global threat; therefore, cannot be any compromise in the war against terrorism. Together with the international community and as victims of terrorism, Israel and India are partners in the battle against this scourge. In line with their adherence to UNSCR 1373, they strongly condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
2017: Recognising that terrorism poses a grave threat to global peace and stability, the two Prime Ministers reiterated their strong commitment to combat it in all its forms and manifestations. They stressed that there can be no justification for acts of terror on any grounds whatsoever. The leaders asserted that strong measures should be taken against terrorists, terror organisations, their networks and all those who encourage, support and finance terrorism, or provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups. They also underscored the need to ensure that terrorist organisations do not get access to any WMD or technologies. Both leaders also committed to cooperate for the early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT).
In both 2003 and 2017 statements, the countries have called for “just and durable peace”. While in 2003 they had only agreed on stopping of violence and creating atmosphere for a dialogue, this time they have explicitly stated their agreement on an “early negotiated solution”.
2003: India and Israel called for the establishment of a just and durable peace in the Middle East. The two sides expressed their respective views, and called for a complete cessation of violence, so that a conducive environment is created for continuation of the dialogue.
2017: The two Prime Ministers discussed developments pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process. They underlined the need for establishment of just and durable peace in the region. They reaffirmed their support for an early negotiated solution…based on mutual recognition and security arrangements.
In 2003, there was only a cursory mention, but this time they talk about joint development and transfer of technology -– a more visible enunciation of cooperation.
2003: Both sides attach great importance to strengthening long-term cooperation in political, defence, economic, commercial, cultural and science and technology areas.
2017: Reaffirming the importance of bilateral defence cooperation over the years, it was agreed that future developments should focus on joint development of defence products, including transfer of technology from Israel, with a special emphasis on the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
In 2003, it was largely an aspirational statement. But in 2017, concrete steps have been outlined – setting up of CEOs’ forum, visas for the business community, bilateral investment protection agreement, etc.
2003: Israel expressed its interest in and willingness to participate in key national Indian projects. Indian companies were invited to expand their activities in Israel –- to encompass the field of investment — and to participate in the process of privatisation in Israel.
2017: The two Prime Ministers noted the importance of realising the full potential of bilateral trade and investment. They tasked the India-Israel CEO Forum to come up with early recommendations in this regard. Both leaders underlined the need to boost bilateral cooperation in innovation and entrepreneurship and called for greater collaboration in the field of start-ups…. India and Israel underlined their expectation that the granting of multiple entry visas to business people for up to five years will encourage greater economic and commercial exchanges.
Technology, Space, Agricultural, Water
This is a new area, where bulk of the action and emphasis is visible now.
2003: Both sides noted the scientific and technological cooperation…and expressed willingness to enhance participation in the joint fund for scientific research established in 1994, as well as explore the possibility of establishment of a bi-national research and development fund in the industrial fields…
2017: The India-Israel Industrial R&D and Innovation Fund (I4F) by the Department of Science and Technology, India and the National Authority for Technological Innovation, Israel with a contribution of US$ 20 million from each side…. Both leaders welcomed the ongoing cooperation between the Israel Space Agency and Indian Space Research Organisation.
They were given due recognition, but this time there was concrete step of opening cultural centre, yoga, etc.
2003: The shining example of the freedom given to Jews of India to practice their religion and give expression to their culture is a tribute to India’s religious tolerance and secularism and sends a vital message of coexistence and harmony.
2017: Appreciating contribution of the Jewish community in India and Jews of Indian origin in Israel in bringing the two societies closer, PM Modi announced opening of an Indian Cultural Centre in Israel. PM Netanyahu expressed his deep respect for Indian culture.
ADDITIONS THIS YEAR
* Cyber: Emphasised the importance of enhanced dialogue between their national cyber authorities.
* Higher education: Underlined importance of enhanced collaboration in higher education and research.
* Air link and connectivity: Agreed to facilitate promotion of travel and tourism, including through further enhancement of air link.
* Health: The PMs directed India-Israel Joint Committee on Science and Technology to explore the possibility of further advancement of scientific collaboration.