Netanyahu in India

Netanyahu in India
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently on a six-day visit to India in a bid to further strengthen ties between the two nations. His visit comes less than 12 months..

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently on a six-day visit to India in a bid to further strengthen ties between the two nations. His visit comes less than 12 months after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an official visit to Israel in 2017.

However, domestically, the Israeli Prime Minister continues to be embroiled in controversy.

Background

India and Israel have an extensive economic, military and strategic relationship. India is the largest buyer of Israeli military equipment and Israel is the second-largest defence supplier to India after Russia. From 1999 to 2009, the military business between the two nations was worth around $9 billion. Military and strategic ties between the two nations extend to intelligence sharing on terrorist groups and joint military training.

However, for decades, India did not pursue any official relationship with Israel due to its support for Palestine. In 1992, the nations established diplomatic ties. Even though it has only been 25 years, the relationship has flourished. While military agreements form the backbone to this equation, Israel has a strong imprint in the Indian agricultural sector as well. In a joint op-ed published in Times of India by both leaders of the state, both Netyanhu and Modi have said, “India and Israel are walking hand in hand into the future as partners. India is a growing economic powerhouse with a large market and talent pool. Israel is a world leader in high technology and innovation.” The first time an Israeli Prime Minister visited India was in 2003 when Ariel Sharon came to India. However, he abruptly cut his visit short to return to Israel to deal with a terrorist attack.

In 2017, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the first Indian PM to make an official visit to Israel. It was noted that Prime Minister Modi did not visit Palestine during the trip, breaking from convention.

Analysis

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently on a six-day visit to India in a bid to further strengthen ties between the two nations. His visit comes less than 12 months after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an official visit to Israel in 2017.

Ahead of his of his visit to India, Netanyahu said, “We are strengthening ties between Israel and this important global power [India].” “This serves our security, economic, trade and tourism interests, as well as many other areas. This is a great blessing for the state of Israel,” he said.

As a show of friendship, Netanyahu has been welcomed warmly by the Indian government. He was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Monday. Indian Prime Minister, Modi was also present at the function. "It began with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's historic visit to Israel, which created tremendous enthusiasm that continues with my visit here, which, I must say, is deeply moving for me and my wife and the entire people of Israel. And, I think, it helps us flourishing our partnership to bring prosperity, peace and progress for both our people," said Netanyahu.

The two countries are expected to strengthen deals regarding agriculture, technology, science, defence and innovation during this visit. Israel will also be committing itself to collaboration in film as well. To that end, Israel has signed an agreement with India and Netanyahu will be meeting the Bollywood film fraternity in Mumbai.

However, domestically, Netanyahu and his family continue to be embroiled in controversy. Just days earlier it was reported that his wife, Sara Netanyahu will be served a draft indictment for alleged misuse of funds. “I want to say thank you to the thousands and thousands and thousands of Israeli citizens and people from the all over the world who support me, help me and encourage me,” she said. “I want to say that in good days, and in less good days, your help and your support give me strength to continue doing all the real things I do for all those who need help, which I try to do to the best of my abilities.” Additionally, his oldest son, Yair, was also in the news at the time, having posted a cartoon of his parents’ critics that was slammed for having antisemitic overtone.

After his trip to India is concluded, the Israeli Prime Minister will then head on another official visit, this time to Argentina, Colombia and Mexico.

Assessment

Our assessment is that the reception accorded to Netanyahu in India once again indicates the growing ties between the two nations. However, Netanyahu’s own future as Prime Minister in Israel is under scrutiny as calls for his resignation grow louder amidst multiple controversies. Will this affect his mandate? We feel that it will be important for the two countries to go beyond the conclusion of defence contracts and develop common narratives to create a better geo-political environment in the Persian gulf.

 

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