Modi’s visit vindication of Palestine policy: Israeli media

Besides being viewed as a win-win for defense and trade, Modi’s visit to Israel is also being touted as converging of Hindu and Jewish nationalisms

Photo courtesy: Twitter/Benjamin Netanyahu
Photo courtesy: Twitter/Benjamin Netanyahu

NH Web Desk

“Welcome, PM Modi,” trumpeted an editorial in Jerusalem Post on the eve of arrival of Narendra Modi, who on Tuesday became the first ever Indian Prime Minister to visit the Jewish state since 1950, when New Delhi officially recognised Israel.

The Israeli media, like the country’s people and its current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are wearing their heart on their sleeves for the Indian leader. “Israel mein apka swagat hai,” Netanyahu said during his welcome speech at the airport after Modi had touched down on Tel Aviv on Tuesday evening. Earlier, a video of Israeli citizens saying that they looked forward to Modi’s visit had been drawing positive reactions on social media.

While it has attracted its share of controversy because of being a standalone visit (Indian dignitaries in the past have always had Palestine in their itinerary when they visited Israel), Modi’s Israel tour is loaded with symbolism. For ardent backers of strong India-Israel relations, the visit represents a new chapter between Modi’s “New India” and the Jewish state.

“Many parallels can be drawn between BJP and our Likud-led government. Both seek to strengthen what they see as a more authentic national identity – Hindutva in India, Judaism in Israel – while maintaining a robust democracy,” the JPost editorial said.

The strategic and economic significance of this visit isn’t lost either. While successive Indian leaderships have until now carefully kept bilateral relations under wraps so as not to anatgonise India’s allies in the Arab world and a section of Muslim constituency at home, Israel has more or less been a tried and tested friend of India.

“Notably, Modi decided not to visit the Palestinian Authority, an exceedingly rare move for countries with good ties in the Arab world. New Delhi explains this anomaly as part of a desire to de-hyphenate its relationships with Jerusalem and with Ramallah,” an article in The Times of Israel said.

It has been reported in the past how Israel fixed up India with arms at the time of the 1971 War and 1999’s Kargil Conflict, both the occasions when India was pitted against Pakistan.

Pakistan, which doesn’t have formal diplomatic relations with Israel, seems to be wary of the growing bonhomie between Modi and Netanyahu.

“This is an old nexus and we know that in the past, Israel has actively worked with India to counter Pakistan,” a Pakistani commentator was quoted as saying on a local news channel on Tuesday.

In terms of trade, Israel is seeing Modi’s visit as an opportunity to sell high-end, primarily, defense and agriculture technology to the world’s second biggest market.

“The Israeli cabinet approved a 23-page document continuing scores of bilateral measures and a budget of 280 million shekels (about $79.6 million or Rs 514 crore) – a bigger sum than Israel has ever set aside for China, Africa and Latin America combined. No fewer than 11 ministries were involved in preparing the program,” reported another influential Israeli daily, The Haaretz.

Another column in JPost read, “Modi recognizes the synergies between Israel’s comparative advantages in military and economic technologies and India’s needs.

It also seems as if Modi’s visit is being used to vindicate Israel’s policy towards Palestine, which of late has come under fire globally for being increasingly aggressive and oppressive.

“When critics and doomsday prophets remonstrate that Israel is facing political isolation, one need only look at the rapidly improving relations between Israel and nations in Africa and the Asia-Pacific region – first and foremost, India.”

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