Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met in New Delhi on 15th January. Netanyahu hailed the meeting as the beginning of a new era of friendship between the two nations. Nine Bilateral agreements were signed as a part of the meeting including the fields of oil, gas, renewable energy and cyber co-operation. According to the Israeli Media, among the issues discussed between the two leaders were greater recognition of Israel’s status as a strategic partner of India and an increase in trade and investments by India in Israel. In addition, the advancement of security deals and regional security issues were also discussed. Benjamin Netanyahu thanked The Indian Prime Minister for his exceptional friendship and hospitality .He further added that he was deeply moved by the ceremony honouring his visit and called Mr. Modi a revolutionary leader who had revolutionized the relationship between the two nations. Let us now analyse the joint statement by the two nations.
Let us first identify the highlights of the joint statement. The Joint Statement identified the major areas of co-operation, agriculture and water resources being the chief among them. Indian Oil Corporation signed letters of intent (LoI) with Phinergy, an Israeli start-up, and YEDA, a technology spin-off from Israel’s Weizmann Research Institute. A total of Nine bilateral agreements were signed as part of the meetings, including in the fields of oil, gas, renewable energy and cyber cooperation. In addition, the advancement of security deals and regional security issues were also discussed.
The major outcome of the India Israel Joint statement was that the relationship between the two nations has finally come out of the closet And that the relationship between the two nations is not limited to Defense and Security anymore.
How is India going to benefit from its ties with Israel?
Until now, India-Israel relationship was premised only on defense and security co-operation where the two countries had a strategic partnership for a number of years. But now we have moved beyond that. PM Modi said we have cut down the red tape in Indian Bureaucracy considerably in order to allow Israeli companies to come and invest in India and set up joint production facilities. This statement is of immense significance, because Israel despite being a technological giant is a tiny country, whereas India is a huge market. These are conducive conditions for setting up joint production facilities. The number of Israeli tourists coming to India has consistently increased. The reason for this is that India is one of the very few countries where Israelis (Jews) feel completely safe even in the remote areas of the country. And that’s why Israelis don’t come to India for a week or two but they sometimes stay over for months. Tourism Sector is a big fat cash cow which is exactly why a new air traffic MoU has been signed with Israel to facilitate tourism.
Talking about agriculture, Israel has developed a technology where it makes the optimum use of whatever limited resources it has. The access to Israel’s technologies most notably in Water resource management, drip irrigation and desalinisation will allow us to raise our productivity considerably.
One country cannot have a long-lasting relationship with another country primarily based on defense and security. It simply remains a seller-customer setup. This is precisely why ‘Defense and Security (except cyber security)’ aren’t even mentioned in the joint statement.
Many self proclaimed geopolitical analyst were predicting a southward dip in India-Israel friendship after India voted against Israel in the UN, but Netanyahu was quick to rubbish these theories. Netanyahu said that the vote has no significance in India and Israel relationship because we have chosen to advance the India Israel relationship in the bilateral context.
India and Israel are now ushering in an era of strategic partnership where both quantum and quality are important. On both these benchmarks, Israel qualifies to be a “solid” strategic partner.