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July 4, 2017 10:45 am

Joint Modi-Netanyahu Op-Ed Hails ‘Natural Partnership Between India and Israel’

avatar by Ben Cohen

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greets his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Tuesday. Photo: Screenshot.

As Narendra Modi arrived in Israel on Tuesday for the historic first-ever official visit by a sitting Indian prime minister to the Jewish state, India’s most venerable newspaper published an opinion piece jointly authored by Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu in which they hailed the alliance between their two countries.

“The natural partnership between India and Israel, formally elevated 25 years ago to full diplomatic relations, has grown stronger from year to year,” the two premiers wrote in The Times of India (ToI). “The deep connection between our peoples reflects our many similarities in spirit, if not in size. Ours are two modern, vibrant democracies that draw on our rich historical traditions while striving to seize the promise of the future for our peoples.”

India’s emergence as an independent state on the global stage has paralleled that of Israel — both nations liberated themselves from British imperial rule within a year of each other, in 1947-48. But during the Cold War, India was broadly aligned with the Soviet bloc and the Arab states, and complete diplomatic relations with Israel were not established until 1992.

Of all of India’s recent leaders, Modi has been the most committed to strategic partnership with Israel.

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“Under Prime Minister Modi, I see India and Israel getting closer due to the enduring set of shared values and interests, as Israel has with the United States,” Prof. Dinesh Sharma — an expert on India-Israel relations based at the Institute of Global Cultural Studies at SUNY-Binghamton — told The Algemeiner on Tuesday. “Modi has worked with Israel going back to when he was chief minister of  the [Indian state of ] Gujarat and visited Israel in 2006.”

“India is maturing as an economy and society; it is a rising power in Asia and beyond,” Sharma said. “So it needs allies like Israel to partner with, to advance to the next level of growth and development in terms of agriculture, water, tech, higher education and defense.”

Israel and India were even cooperating “in Bollywood and films,” Sharma noted.

The supply of clean water in India will be a major issue during Modi’s three-day visit.

“Israel’s extreme water crises in the past place it in a unique position to understand India’s quest for efficient water solutions,” Modi and Netanyahu wrote. “The cost effective adaptation of Israeli technology to India’s needs could create new solutions that we could use to help address the water challenges of other developing nations across the globe.”

Sharma said there was little evidence of nostalgia in India for the country’s previous harsh attitude toward Israel.

“Under Modi, growth, development and nationalism have overtaken the concerns of the political left” in India, he observed.


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