India-Israel bonding — The ‘I’ square equation

India-Israel bonding is reaching new heights, thanks to the global leadership qualities of the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu

Issue No. 11-12 | June 1-30, 2017By R. ChandrakanthPhoto(s): By PIB
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Israel, on July 5, 2017

India and Israel relationship has taken on a new meaning, new dimension and new depth, even as the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel in 70 years. Narendra Modi who received a red carpet welcome, usually reserved for the Pope, rightly stated that this was a ‘pathbreaking journey’ while the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledging the historic visit said “Aapka swaagat hai mere dost, we have waited for you 70 years.” The Israeli Prime Minister also said “You are a great leader of India and a great world leader: PM@netanyahu to PM @narendramodi

Modi said “I begin a historic visit to Israel, a very special partner of India’s... As the first Indian prime minister to do so, I am greatly looking forward to this unprecedented visit that will bring our two countries and people closer.” He also tweeted “I look forward to holding extensive talks with my friend, @IsraeliPM @netanyahu, who shares a commitment for vibrant India-Israel ties.”

Calling visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi “a great world leader”, Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu said ties between the two countries were perfect to mathematical precision and described the friendship formula as the square of I and of T if multiplied equalled “Israel, India Ties for Tomorrow”.

Modi and his delegation signed seven agreements — three on space, two on water and one on innovation and one other on Mashav, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation. The two leaders signed cooperation on satellite technology, water and agriculture, as well as the creation of a $40 million innovation fund. The agreements are part of efforts to extend relations in civilian areas between both countries, with Israel already selling India an average of $1 billion per year in military equipment.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivering his press statement on arrival in Tel Aviv, Israel, on July 4, 2017

The joint statement was preceded by anecdotes to indicate their personal friendship. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said a long-ago date at an Indian restaurant was followed by a marriage that has lasted 26 years.

India and Israel have strong defence partnership with the latter supplying key arms and ammunition, though on this visit defence is not the primary focus of the trip. Israel is recognized as a trustworthy partner in defence research and development, having supplied weapon systems, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles such as the Heron, in the past. The Indian Air Force operates about 180 Israeli-made UAVs, including 108 IAI-made Searchers and 68 unarmed Heron 1s for surveillance and intelligence gathering. According to the President and CEO of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Joseph Weiss, “India is one of IAI’s leading markets.” Thus, defence cooperation has been one of the main pillars of bilateral engagement between the two nations, with defence trade having average annual sales of over $1 billion.

The Israeli Prime Minister said Israel endorsed India’s plan of ‘Make in India’ and accordingly the theme in Israel is ‘Make with India’.

Calling visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi “a great world leader”, Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu said ties between the two countries were perfect to mathematical precision and described the friendship formula as the square of I and of T if multiplied equalled “Israel, India Ties for Tomorrow”. Prime Minister Modi said “I for I, India for Israel and Israel for India,” while being greeted with a warm hug by President Rivlin.

In the months leading up to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic visit to Israel, India signed two arms deals, spending $2.6 billion on Israeli missile defense systems. However, defence trade took a back seat during the visit, instead the two leaders and delegations firmed up deals to do with medical devices, hi-tech and water systems.

The Minister of State for Defence, Subhash Bhamre has stated that seven of the 37 contracts signed by India for the procurement of weapons and military platforms over the past two years were with Israel, thus making Israel the second biggest source for weapons after the United States.

Giving the partnership further boost is the visit of Prime Minister, Modi who emphasized on common challenges and the aims to defeat forces of terror. “We must resolutely oppose the evils of terrorism, radicalism and violence that plague our time.” He said about the future challenges lying ahead of both countries, “Common objectives of economic prosperity, strong technology and innovation ties and the need to secure our societies define the space for convergent action between us.”

After visiting the Yad Vashem Memorial museum to remember and honour over six million Jewish lives that were lost in the horror of the holocaust, Prime Minister Modi said “Yad Vashem tells us that those who believe in humanity and civilized values must come together and defend it at all costs. As such, we must resolutely oppose the evils of terrorism, radicalism and violence that plague our time.”

Extending his hand of friendship, Prime Minister Modi said “In modern times, our ties have seen rapid growth since the establishment of our full diplomatic relations a quarter century ago. Common objectives of economic prosperity, strong technology and innovation ties and the need to secure our societies define the space for convergent action between us. Over coming decades, we want to frame a relationship that transforms the landscape of our economic engagement. India is the world’s fastest growing large economy.

Our focus on using technology and innovation to meet our development priorities provides productive scope to expand our academic, scientific & research, and business links. We also want to put in place a robust security partnership to respond to shared threats to our peace, stability and prosperity. I will work with Prime Minister Netanyahu to craft and build a clear action agenda to realise these objectives.” Prime Minister Modi tweeted “My talks with @IsraeliPM @netanyahu focussed on #IndiaIsraelFriendship as well as how our ties can help further world peace & stability.”