Major Indian Paper: PM Modi’s Upcoming Trip to Israel Later This Year Will Represent Long-Overdue Diplomatic Shift
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s planned upcoming trip to Israel will represent a diplomatic shift that “should have been carried out many years ago,” the Hindustan Times said in an editorial on Monday.
“Whatever the outcome of the visit, the very act of visiting Israel will be historic,” it noted. “No serving Indian prime minister has ever visited Israel. There are also increasing signals that Modi will break the traditional diplomatic hyphen New Delhi has maintained between Israel and Palestine and will not include a stopover in Palestine in his itinerary. Such a decision would fit in with Modi’s general attitude that Indian foreign policy should reflect the rising global profile of India, adhere strictly to the national interest and be less concerned about ideological and symbolic actions.”
“More fundamental is that such a trip would reflect the sea-change that has taken place between India and Israel since the former normalised diplomatic relations in 1992,” the New Delhi-based English-language paper went on to say. “Israel is now one of the three largest suppliers of arms and weapons to India, a major source of assistance in the country’s counterterrorism programmes and, uniquely in the world, a partner in the development of India’s nuclear arsenal. The last fact alone would indicate Israel has become strategically more trusted by India than any other country in the world.”
“That New Delhi should have continued to follow a path of diplomatic distance and security promiscuity with Israel has not made any sense for several years now,” the paper further noted. “Modi’s visit will hopefully bring diplomacy into alignment with political reality.”
Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Jerusalem with Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval. According to a statement released by Netanyahu’s office, the context of the meeting was Modi’s Israel trip, which reportedly could take place in June.
The Israel-India relationship has flourished recently. Last November, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin traveled to India, just over a year after his Indian counterpart, President Pranab Mukherjee, visited Israel.
The defense field is an area of particularly close collaboration between Israel and India. Just last month, for example, it was reported that Modi had approved a $2.5 billion deal to acquire an Israeli aerial defense system for his country’s military.
Netanyahu and Modi met for the first time in New York City in September 2014 on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly gathering.
Following Modi’s Israel visit, Netanyahu is expected to make a reciprocal trip to India by the end of next January. In 2003, the late Ariel Sharon became the first and so far only Israeli prime minister to travel to India.
Last week, Air India — the country’s flag carrier — announced it was planning to renew direct flights between New Delhi and Tel Aviv.