India/Israel politics: Quick View - Israeli prime minister makes extended visit to India
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- Economist Intelligence Unit
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- International Relations, Politics, News Analysis, Forecast
- Political Geography
- India, Israel
The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, completed a six-day visit to India on January 19th.
The two countries have had extensive defence and intelligence links for decades and established formal relations in 1992, but these were conducted quietly until Narendra Modi was elected Indian prime minister in 2014. India views Israel as an important source for military and other technology, as well as economic co-operation, as part of a broader Indian strategy of courting foreign investment. For Israel, India is part of its strategy of pivoting away from Europe and the US diplomatically and economically and towards the rising powers of Asia.
Mr Netanyahu's visit reciprocated Mr Modi's trip to Israel in 2017. The primary focus of Mr Netanyahu's trip was on defence and technology. The prime minster came with a delegation of 130 businesspeople (the biggest ever for an Israeli state visit) and the two sides signed nine memoranda covering areas including cybersecurity, agriculture, space and energy. Mr Netanyahu also sought to reverse a decision by India just before the visit to back out of a US$500m deal to buy Israeli anti-tank missiles.
Israel is leveraging its technology and intelligence capabilities to broaden bilateral relations to other areas. Already a major supplier of arms to India-its single biggest market for defence sales and, for India, Israel is one of its biggest suppliers-it now wants the commerce to expand into agriculture and industry, where it can provide India with technology input. The two countries have agreed to begin talks on a free-trade agreement, with discussions to begin in February.
The diplomatic element is proving harder for Israel to manage. Although Mr Modi's policy is to de-link Israeli ties from the Palestinian issue, India voted in favour of the UN General Assembly's resolution condemning US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and Mr Modi will be going on a state visit to the Palestinian Authority in February. India has extensive commercial ties with Iran, including big investments slated for developing ports and railroads, while China may be hesitant about further improving ties with Israel given the latter's attempts to also improve links with its main regional rival, India.
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