Israel upbeat about Modi visit

With India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj announcing the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel, Tel Aviv has voiced confidence that the first-ever trip by an Indian leader will take India-Israel relations to new heights.

On May 31, Mrs Swaraj had stunned many when she said at her annual media interaction that the Indian prime minister will visit Israel, bringing one of India’s key relationships out the closet. Mr Modi’s visit will be preceded by Sushma Swaraj’s trip to Israel as well as Palestine and Jordon. Mrs Swaraj stressed that India’s policy towards Palestine hasn’t changed at all.

Israel is upbeat about an upswing in ties with India under the Modi government. Israel’s Ambassador to India Daniel Carmon welcomed his proposed visit, and said that the high level visits between the two countries were natural ingredients of further enhancing relationship between India and Israel.

“I’m confident that such visits will further expand the relation and take them to new heights,” he said.

India and Israel have enjoyed a multi-faceted relationship since they established formal diplomatic ties in 1992. The relations received a major push after the then Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visited India in 2003. He was also credited for transforming bilateral relationship between the two countries, which once involved just defence and strategic issues. The two nations have been cooperating in several important areas, including defence, counter-terrorism, agriculture, and the energy sector.

Prime Minister Modi shares a personal rapport with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, as the former refers to him as “my friend”. Mr Netanyahu had met the prime minister on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly Summit in September last year. The “sky’s the limit” in Israeli-Indian ties, he had said famously. Earlier, Mr Modi had visited Israel when he was the chief minister of Gujarat.

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