Prime Minister Narendra Modi
is in Israel for a three-day visit starting today. This visit, the first by an Indian prime minister, will have issues like counter-terrorism, trade, especially the diamond industry, agriculture, water management, and defence
cooperation on the agenda.
India's relations with Israel are popularly seen to be driven by defence
purchases on the part of the former. However, as reported earlier, this visit will be more than just a glorified defence
procurement deal, with the two nations' prime ministers there to sign off on it.
A whole host of topics are expected to be discussed. Here are five things to look out for during PM Modi's Israel visit.
1) Diamonds are for everyone, especially India and Israel:
As reported earlier
, talks between the two sides are expected to focus on how to collaborate on the lucrative diamond polishing and processing trade, a senior government official said under conditions of anonymity.
While India is the largest exporter of polished diamonds in the world, sending out more than 75 per cent of the world supply, Israel is the second largest. Israel, for long the top exporter of the shiny stone to the United States — the world's largest market for diamond — has recently been overtaken by India.
2) United against terrorism: Describing terrorism as a global menace, PM Modi has said that New Delhi and Tel Aviv can "cooperative even more closely" in battling terrorism.
In an interview, PM Modi told an Israeli newspaper, Israel Hayom
, that his three-day visit to Israel had its own significance and would further strengthen bilateral ties.
"Terrorism should not be equated with any particular religion. India and Israel could cooperate even more closely and complement each other's efforts to fight with the menace of terrorism," PM Modi said when asked about the common threat of terrorism.
3) Commerce makes the world go round: Israel is eyeing the strong middle class base in India to boost its exports, capitalising on the the momentum generated by PM Modi's "historic" visit, but scepticism persists here due to stalled discussions on a Free Trade Agreement.
"India is a key export market for Israel. Tightening relations with India and this historic visit of the Indian Prime Minister will lead, beyond increasing security exports, to growth in trade in goods and services," Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen said. (Read more
In his interview with Israel Hayom, Modi has said India was not looking at a "traditional import-export relationship" with the Jewish nation. "It is more than a buyer-seller relationship. We are more interested in a tech-based partnership with an emphasis on 'Make in India.'" the prime minister said.
A joint business council between the two nations has also been created for the first time which is looking at expanding the scope of bilateral trade, Pankaj Patel, President of industry body Ficci said.
4) Looking for a 'fruitful' relationship:
Apart from trade, agriculture
and water management
are other areas of focus between the two nations that are expected to be discussed during the trip.
As reported earlier
, B Bala Bhaskar, Joint Secretary (West Asia and North Africa) in the Ministry of External Affairs, said that Israel has expressed its "great willingness" over the last three years to participate in India's flagship initiatives like Make in India, Clean Ganga, Smart Cities and Digital India.
Stating that there has been cooperation going on in the agriculture
sector, he said: "With the help of Israel we have established centres of excellence in various states aimed at increasing productivity, crop management, and water management.
5) Defence and security:
Last and of course not the least, the driving force behind the relationship, defence
cooperation, will also get a boost. However, no specific big-ticket purchases or deals have been reported to be slated for the current visit.
Still, as IndiaSpend explains, citing the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India is Israel’s top destination for arms exports, buying 41 per cent of Israel’s arms export between 2012 and 2016. As such, further cooperation and co-development in the area is bound to come up for discussion. (Read more