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July 3, 2017 5:31 pm

Indian Media Hails New Era in Ties With Israel on Eve of Historic Visit by PM Modi

avatar by Ben Cohen

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photo: Wikicommons

While Israel’s press is excitedly preparing for the first official visit by an Indian Prime Minister when Narendra Modi lands in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, Indian media outlets and political pundits have been no less enthused, hailing the visit as an unprecedented economic and political opportunity.

As the Financial Times put it – in a report that liberally quoted Indian analysts on the advantages of closer ties with the Jewish state – “Narendra Modi will consign his country’s ambivalence towards Israel to history as he becomes the first Indian prime minister to pay an official visit.”

“This is a historic moment,” Ashok Malik, a fellow at New Delhi’s Observer Research Foundation, told the FT. “It is part of India’s modernisation, both in terms of the economy and foreign policy.”

“Mr Modi is de-hyphenating relations,” PR Kumaraswamy, who teaches on the Middle East at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, said in the same article. “Its links with Israel are no longer merely an aspect of its policy towards the Palestinians.”

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Indian cable news giant NDTV published a 10-point guide to Modi’s visit, highlighting bilateral cooperation against terrorism, the enthusiasm in India for Israeli technology in improving clean water and other public infrastructure issues, lucrative defense deals, and joint efforts to improve India’s food security.

The Times of India – the country’s first English-language newspaper, which began publishing in 1838 – delved into some of the policy details of the visit.

“Apart from boosting cooperation in the water and agriculture sectors, India and Israel will also discuss ways to strengthen people-to-people contact, air connectivity and investments,” the ToI reported. “During the visit, a deal with the Uttar Pradesh government is also likely to be signed to clean-up a patch of river Ganges apart from setting up of industrial research and development fund of USD 40 million.”

The ToI noted that Modi would be greeted at the airport by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – “a special gesture only accorded to the Pope or the US president,” the paper underlined.

“Modi will not travelling to neighbouring Palestine during the visit, a clear signal of de-hyphenation of its ties with the two West Asian nations,” the ToI observed, using the term to refer to Modi’s policy of decoupling ties with Israel from India’s historic political support for the Palestinians.

“India is expected to stick to its traditional position on the Palestine conflict with Modi reiterating that the country is committed to a “two-state solution” in which both Israel and a future Palestinian state can coexist peacefully,” the Hindustan Times said.


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