Indian Premier, in Israel Visit, Seeks to Break Barriers in Trade and History

JERUSALEM – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long argued that, far from being diplomatically isolated because of its policy toward the Palestinians, Israel is constantly courted by countries seeking assistance in technology, intelligence and the fight against terrorism.

This story was reinforced on Tuesday when Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India, arrived in Israel for a three-day visit, the first by an Indian prime minister in 25 years since the two countries established full diplomatic relations.

“We have waited for a long time. We have waited almost 70 years, in fact,” since the creation of the state of Israel, said M. Netanyahu in his welcome address at the airport.

Israel and India already share extensive ties of defense, and India recently agreed to purchase approximately 2 billion Israeli missiles and air defense systems, the largest order in Israel’s history, according to experts. The two countries are now seeking to expand trade and cooperation in areas such as agriculture and water management.

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India has long accepted the Palestinian cause and has kept its distance from Israel from protecting its interests in the Arab world. But Mr. Modi seems as anxious as M. Netanyahu to lose Israel from the Palestinian question and in particular not to combine the trip with a courtesy visit to the Palestinian Authority.

Hundreds of people were invited to greet Mr. Modi at a red carpet ceremony at the airport. M. Netanyahu described as “my friend” and the two welcomed the visit as “historic”.

Israel, a piece of land, has a population of 8.5 million, while India is a vast country with 1.3 billion people. Despite the apparent lack of correspondence, the two have developed as dynamic democracies in unfavorable conditions and have many common interests.

“We have the same enemy: radical Islam,” said Efraim Inbar of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, near Tel Aviv. “Like us, they live in a difficult neighborhood,” he added, referring to Pakistan and China.

Professor Inbar said India’s purchases of arms from Israel amounted to more than $ 1 billion a year and that the country has made “good partners” in other areas of security and innovation.

“Heaven is the limit in this relationship,” he said, with India now an economic power and the strength of the declining Arab world. “We’re just scratching the surface.”

For India, the visit is the culmination of a progressive political pivot.

Fr. R. Kumaraswamy, professor of international affairs at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi and author of “Israel’s Israeli policy,” compared it to a clandestine love story that was finally demonstrated.

“You have a relationship but you are not willing to admit it in public,” said Professor Kumaraswamy. “If I’m having an affair with a woman, I’m not going to part with my whole decision-making process, but if you marry a person, that’s the whole package.” “You want to live, how you see your life in 20 years nowadays. ”

The position of India through the last days of the Raj Britannique, when its nationalist leaders saw a common cause with the post-colonial Arab world.

Independence is a much more practical consideration: the National Party of India party was desperate to guarantee the loyalty of the great Muslim minority in India, which was also courted by the Muslim League.

New Delhi has not recognized the Jewish state until 1950, two years after its creation. The armed forces of the two countries have been building the links since the 1980s, while India was looking for suppliers outside the Soviet bloc, but the two governments have not established diplomatic relations until 1992, under the chairmanship of PV Narasimha Rao prime minister .

“When the Cold War ended, India had to say,” I know there is a new world, “and the most effective way to do this is to establish relations with Israel,” he said. Kumaraswamy the master “changing the relationship, said:” I am out of the past. “