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Israeli Prime Minister meets with Indian PM in New York
Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Modi discussed ways of strengthening bilateral ties in the area of agriculture, cyber-security and defense

Israeli Prime Minister Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu met with his Indian counterpart, Mr. Narendra Modi in the U.S on his recent trip to New York in September this year. Mr. Modi’s reach-out to Mr. Netanyahu, which was followed by a ceremony, took place on September 28th, shortly after the Israeli Prime Minister arrived.


On meeting Mr. Modi, the Israeli Prime Minister said to him, “We’re two old peoples, some of the oldest civilizations on earth. But we’re also two democracies… If we work together we can [seize the future]. We’re very excited by the prospects of greater and greater ties with India. We think the sky’s the limit”.


In reply, Mr. Modi said, “Excellency you are absolutely correct. I agree with you that India-Israel relations are historical. I met this morning with people from the Jewish community, the American Jewish Council. India is the only country where anti-semitism has never been allowed to come up, and where Jews have never suffered, and lived as an integral part of our society”. Mr. Modi had met with members of the Jewish community in New York earlier that day.


According to Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Mr. Syed Akbaruddin, the two leaders discussed the situation in West Asia. “Given that Israel is well placed in that region, the Prime Minister requested and was given a briefing of their understanding of the situation.”


Mr. Modi and Mr. Netanyahu also discussed ways of increasing bilateral ties in the areas of agriculture, water management and urban development. Israel is one of India’s largest defence suppliers, and Mr. Modi discussed his government’s decision to open up Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the field to 49 per cent. He also told Mr. Netanyahu that Israel should consider defence partnerships based in India, in line with his “Make in India” initiative. According to The Jerusalem Post, Mr. Netanyahu said, “the sky is the limit” for relations between both countries.


India’s interest in the Modi-Netanyahu meeting on the sidelines of the UN did not take anybody by surprise in Jerusalem, since a significant upgrade in the relations was largely expected after Mr. Modi – who visited Israel in 2006 as the chief minister in the western state of Gujarat – won the elections in the spring. Mr. Modi knows Israel, appreciates its economic success and is well aware of what it can offer, beyond the traditional realm of diamonds and military hardware. When he was the chief minister in Gujarat, trade ties expanded into the realms of solar power, water management and pharmaceuticals.


Mr. Modi’s appointment of Ms. Sushma Swaraj as Minister of Foreign Affairs was a welcome sign, since she served from 2006 to 2009 as Chairwoman of the Indo-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group, and visited the country in 2008, praising Israel at the time for proving a “reliable partner” in India’s 1999 war with Pakistan.


The “sky is the limit” in Israeli-Indian relations, Mr. Netanyahu told his counterpart at the opening of their talks held in a ballroom of Manhattan’s Palace Hotel, where Mr. Netanyahu was staying during his five days stay in New York.


According to Mr. Netanyahu’s office the two men discussed Iran, the threat of Islamic terrorism, which India has suffered badly from over the years, and possible cooperation in the fields of hi-tech, cybersecurity, water conservation and agriculture.


Mr. Netanyahu also invited India to focus on building its cyber security defence systems with countries across the world including the US and the UK. This discussion between Mr. Modi and President Obama will also figure homeland security issues, terrorism and cyber security threats.


Source: Jerusalem Post, Mondoweiss, The Hindu, Hindustan Times


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