Last week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a public address, hailed the upcoming visit of PM Narendra Modi to Israel as a historic one, terming it as one that will strengthen military, economic and diplomatic ties. A historic visit it indeed is, given that this is the first-ever visit by an Indian PM to the country.
Modi’s three-day visit while commemorating 25 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries will be aimed at facilitating ingress of Israel’s technological prowess to India. Currently, technological expertise is Israel’s USP in the military as well as in the civilian domain, evident from the high frequency of technology start-ups that have taken root in the country.
Unlike Indian start-ups that are barely surviving in an inclement economic environment, start-ups in Israel are blossoming. They are creating massive job opportunities for the youth. Be it farming, animal husbandry, healthcare, cybersecurity or biotechnology, Israel is at the top of its game. PM Modi and his retinue would be keen on tapping this intellectual capital to India’s advantage. What’s more, in the defence domain, a strong bond already exists between the two countries.
India is the largest arms importer in the world, while Israel just recently trumped the US to become the largest arms supplier to India. It is clear from India’s recent stand-off with China and its recurrent low-intensity conflict episodes with Pakistan that the country is running low on firepower, both on the quantity and quality fronts.
Israel’s heft and India’s strategic partnership with the ancient land serve mutual interests. Israel benefits from a trade surplus dynamic with India and the former will be keen on nurturing these strong business ties in the future. Possibly, Israel would try and coax India into supporting its stand against Palestine.
However, if India’s decades of diplomatic balancing act is anything to go by, New Delhi might hesitate to make a substantial commitment. Last month, when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited India for the third time, it was PM Modi who reiterated his support for an independent, united Palestine.
The PM’s visit will be one that will ‘de-hyphenate’ the Israel-Palestine issue while keeping the focus on augmenting bilateral cooperation as well as exchanging technological know-how on agricultural modernisation and water utilisation. Indian diplomacy, while dealing with Israel in the past few decades, has been inhibited. It is high time that the old ideas are discarded for a robust relationship with Jerusalem.