Netanyahu visit expected to deepen bond with India's Modi

Netanyahu visit expected to deepen bond with India's Modi

Kerry Wise
January 14, 2018

Netanyahu's is the first prime ministerial visit from Israel to India since the visit of then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2003.

The chemistry between Mr Modi and Mr Netanyahu was evident in Israel last July: the warm embraces; the walk on the beach, unaccompanied by minders; the statements affirming the challenges shared by the two countries.

On Tuesday, the minister will leave for Agra and visit Taj Mahal in the city.

Events since then seemed as if they might rock the relationship somewhat.

India last month voted for a resolution at the UN General Assembly opposing US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The problem for Israel is that other competitors, too, are willing to shift base to India to get a slice of the huge armaments market that India has become.

Describing the backdrop of votes at the United Nations as "dynamic" and the United Nations itself as "a vibrant theatre where many things are happening", Carmon said "If the question is, will it influence the relationship, I don't think it can influence the relationship".

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Netanyahu's visit will exemplify the joint commitment to boost and diversify economic ties. The Israeli Prime Minister will be meeting his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, on January 15. Meetings with President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President Venkaiah Naidu are also scheduled for Monday.

Days ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit, The Indian army and the government are considering restructuring a $500 million order to buy Spike anti-tank missiles from Israel's that New Delhi canceled last week.

The same can be expected of Netanyahu's reciprocal visit this week to India, with an itinerary that will be packed with political consultations and business-development meetings, one worldwide conference, and numerous ceremonies, cultural events, and site visits.

Nonmilitary trade between the two countries reached $4.2b.in 2016, and Netanyahu's visit to India will focus on how to substantially increase that number. Defence infrastructure plays a large part in this. Israel already is a major weapons supplier to India, selling it an average of $1 billion of military equipment each year.

According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, which quoted Indian media, while the government (the Defence Ministry) has said no, the Indian military establishment remains keen on the purchase of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems going through.

India is considering purchase of Spike anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) from Israel through the government-to-government (G-to-G) route, months after it made a decision to cancel a deal to procure the weapons from an Israeli firm.