Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Source: AP)
Deepening of ties in vital areas of trade and defence, including a possible signing of a multi-million dollar Israeli anti-tank missile deal, are on the table during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visit, which comes days after India voted against Israel at the UN on the Jerusalem issue.
Israeli Ambassador to India Daniel Carmon on Friday down played India’s stand at the UN General Assembly over the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in place of Tel Aviv, saying New Delhi’s view “cannot influence” Indo-Israel ties.
“I don’t think it can influence the relationship. The relationship is much stronger than the one vote here and there,” Carmon said, but maintained that it was “not a happy” situation when members of the international community did not vote in favour on the issue at the UN.
The envoy also said that sometimes India comes with a request (at the UN) and sometimes Israel does. “We cannot always fulfil those requests and this is why we are two different countries,” he told reporters here.
India had last month joined 127 other countries to vote in the UNGA in favour of a resolution opposing the recent decision of US President Donald Trump to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Ahead of the visit, Netanyahu had said, “Well I would have preferred a different vote to be frank, but I don’t think it materially changes the tremendous flowering of relations between India and Israel.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited the Jewish state in July last year, becoming the first Indian premier to do so. Netanyahu will be in India on a six-day visit from January 14, during which he will hold comprehensive talks with Modi. The prime minister will also host a private dinner for the Israeli leader.
During his stay, he will also visit Gujarat and Mumbai. Without confirming whether an agreement for Israeli Spike missiles will be signed during Netanyahu’s visit, Carmon said the Spike project is an example of “Israel engaging in Make in India” because it can be implemented through partnership between an Israeli company and Indian firm.
In November, the defence ministry had decided to retract from the process to acquire a batch of Spike missiles from Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defence Systems. Now, it is learnt that the government is considering buying the missiles through government-to-government route.
The envoy also referred to the personal equation between Modi and Natenyahu. He said the Indian prime minister will host Netanyahu in his home state and termed it as an “important gesture”.
On the strong bond between the two leaders which was driving the current Indo-Israeli ties, Carmon said the relationship between India and Israel is an “all-weather friendship”. He also said in the case of Justice Dalveer Bhandari at the International Court of Justice, Israel not only supported the Indian candidate but it adopted, with four more countries, along with India, Bhandari’s candidature.
“Since we talk about democracies, similar values, similar challenges…, the relationship is so strong between both the countries that our feeling is (that) nothing can reverse it,” he said. Touching upon the trade and business aspects of Netanyahu’s visit, Carmon said a 130-strong delegation of businessmen involved in technologies related to agriculture, water, cyber, defence industries, food processing, will accompany the Israeli leader.
Carmon said 11-year Moshe Holtzberg will also accompany Netanyahu and participate in a function at the Chabad House in Mumbai. Moshe’s parents were killed in the 26/11 terror attack at the Chabad House.