Modi to become first Indian PM to visit Israel
Indian Defence News: Narendra Modi will be the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel when he arrives on Tuesday.
“This is a historic first visit by an Indian PM to Israel in 70 years; it attests to the fact that our relations with India became closer”, Israel PM tweeted on Monday.
PM Modi’s visit is seen as a turning point in India’s position on Israel, as both the countries have been working closely on counter-terrorism and India has been a regular customer of arms from the Jewish state.
Eyeing the modernization of Indian military to counter China and Pakistan, India is now Israel’s biggest arms market, thought to be worth about $1bn (£770,000) per year, according to Reuters news agency.
It was not too long ago when Israeli diplomats considered India a hardship posting. Those souls braving the pokey confines of the Israeli Consulate on Peddar Road in Mumbai, protected 24×7 by a contingent of armed Maharashtra Police, were incentivized by higher emoluments and career advancement. This was before diplomatic relations were “normalised” and the representation scaled up in 1992 to the ambassadorial level by the Narasimha Rao government.
In the new millennium, Delhi is a much sought after station. Ambassador Alon Ushpiz, for instance, went from Delhi to an appointment as Adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in one fine leap and lost no time in urging his boss to establish a separate bureau in the Israeli Foreign Office to deal with India, which Netanyahu duly did two months back.
India and Israel have a uniquely close relationship. It dates back to trade in King Solomon’s time, and the first Jews seeking refuge in India after the razing of the Second Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D.
India is seeking advanced military technology from Israel and agricultural techniques to turn deserts into orchards, and inspiration to be another ‘startup nation’ in cutting edge technology. The two countries, in other words, have experienced sort of Kondratieff Cycles in civilisational ups and downs, before settling into a steady state.
Mr Modi will also be meeting an Israeli boy, Moshe Holtzberg, whose parents were killed in Mumbai attack during 2008 terror attack.
After US president, Israel is giving its guest the high-level red carpet treatment.
Mr Netanyahu will go beyond the usual protocol of meeting visiting leaders on a few occasions during their trip. In the case of Mr Modi, he will accompany him for most of the visit, an honour usually reserved for only top level guests like the US president.
Mr Netanyahu’s office tweeted he would join his guest “at many events during his visit as befits the leader of the largest democracy in the world”.