Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s kickstarts his three-day state visit to Israel on Tuesday marking a “historic milestone” in both the countries’ bilateral relations. What started as a diplomatic outreach 25 years ago by former Prime Minister Morarji Desai has been now realised by PM Modi, who became the first Indian PM to visit the country. PM Modi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu penned a joint Op-Ed article in The Times of India, where both leaders called the visit one of the historic milestones to be set by the two countries.
Modi and Netanyahu met for the first time in September 2014 in New York, along the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session. PM Modi was newly sworn-in then and the meeting marked a first between the PMs of the two countries in over a decade. So, the Modi-Netanyahu relationship is one that has been developed over years. Netanyahu will closely accompany Modi in his three-day visit to the country.
“A historic visit to Israel commences today. It will be the first ever of an Indian Prime Minister to Israel. The two of us have met before but this is the first time we do so on Israeli soil,” PM Modi and Netanyahu wrote in the article.
The partnership between the two countries has so far been limited to trade, commerce and defence, but this visit increases the diplomatic engagement to an unprecedented level.
“The natural partnership between India and Israel, formally elevated 25 years ago to full diplomatic relations, has grown stronger from year to year.”
The leaders acknowledged that both countries face complex challenges and that they have to work together to overcome them.
“Both our nations are complex. Like yogic asanas grounding down and pulling up at the same time, they face many challenges. By working together we can overcome some of the challenges,” they said.
Jews have been a part of the Indian society for centuries now, particularly the western part of India, and the leaders highlighted how they have always been welcomed with warmth and without persecution. They also spoke about the entrepreneurial drive among today’s youth and called for a joint action to spur economic growth by making use of the large market and talent pool at their disposal. They said that they want to walk into the future as partners.
“Today the entrepreneurial drive of Indians and Israelis brings us closer together. The Jewish community in India was always welcomed with warmth and respect and never faced any persecution. The Jews of Indian origin in Israel are proud of their heritage and have left an indelible imprint on both societies. Both communities serve as a human bridge between our nations.
“India and Israel are walking hand in hand into the future as partners. India is a growing economic powerhouse with a large market and talent pool. Israel is a world leader in high technology and innovation. The combination of India’s and Israel’s human resources and ingenuity will provide more effective and more affordable solutions for us in diverse fields that are priorities for both our governments: agriculture, water, health, environment, education and security.”
The leaders highlighted the technological advances made by the two countries. They also said that the partnership will go beyond exchange of technology and highlighted several projects that are planned for joint development of the countries.
“From start-ups to space, communications to cybernetics, Israel’s technological capabilities are merging with India’s. Indian students specialising in advanced research and technical studies are building strong links with institutions of higher learning in Israel. These ties go beyond technological exchange and reflect a long-term developmental partnership,” they said.
On India partnering with Israel in the field of agriculture, they said: “15 fully operational joint Centers of Excellence under the Indo-Israeli Agricultural Project showcase our mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of agriculture. Israel’s extreme water crises in the past place it in a unique position to understand India’s quest for efficient water solutions.”
They said hat the countries will be establishing a new India-Israel CEOs Forum. Acquiring business visas will become easier now. The Make in India project found mention, as expected, and the leaders said that the initiative has been enhanced with their partnership.
Notably, the leaders spoke about the threats posed by terrorism to both the countries, and the security concerns that have a bearing on global peace and stability.
“We both recognise the threat terrorism poses to our countries and to global peace and stability. Accordingly, a few years ago we signed a landmark agreement on cooperation in homeland and public security. India and Israel are committed to working together to fight this scourge.”