Israeli President Shimon Peres hosts a delegation of 20 leaders and managers of leading Indian companies in Jerusalem last October. (Photo: Mark Neyman/FLASH90) Israeli President Shimon Peres hosts business leaders from India in Oct. 2013. (Photo: Mark Neyman/FLASH90)
India Israel

India seems to be at the top of the agenda in Israel’s desire to strengthen economic ties with Asia and Latin America, and the interest is mutual.

Israel may have a “staunch new ally” in South Asia with the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2014 national elections, according to the New York-based International Business Times (IBT).

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting on Israel’s move from dependence on the European market to strengthening economic ties with Asia and Latin America, also mentioned his congratulatory call on Friday to Modi, who led the conservative Bharatiya Janata Party to a landslide victory.

“On Friday, I spoke with the Prime Minister-elect of India,” Netanyahu said. “There, too, is a clear expression of the desire to deepen and develop economic ties with the State of Israel.”

“Netanyahu did not lose time in reaching out to Modi…as part of his goal to benefit from untapped potential in the huge market there,” reports IBT.

The enthusiasm is not one-sided, however. Modi is “keen to deepen ties with Israel,” IBT pointed out in a headline.

“Modi, a right-wing, pro-Hindu nationalist…has long courted political and trade links with the State of Israel,” IBT said, adding that Asia is “likely to overtake the Jewish state’s close ally United States as the largest export destination.”

Both countries “have been negotiating a Free Trade Agreement for the last several years,” the article continues. “While relations between India and Israel have deepened and diversified ever since diplomatic relations were established in 1992, the five years of BJP rule in the past gave a major impetus to the ties.”

India-Israel Bond Deepened by Fight Against Terror

As noted by Israel National News (INN), the growing bond between the Jewish State and India is also a boost to Israel’s fight against Islamist terror, as both countries face threats from neighboring Islamist states.

“A 2013 report in Asia news publication The Diplomat postulated that if and when Modi ascends to the prime ministry, India’s ties to Israel will ‘expand dramatically,'” INN reports.

“While it was a Congress [Party] government that established diplomatic ties with Israel in 1992, it was under a BJP-led government from 1999 to 2004 that Indian ties with the Jewish State blossomed,” The Diplomat said. “This period [led] critics to believe that this was not just a security partnership but also a relationship with strong religious and ideological moorings.”

Modi’s party “has praised Israel repeatedly as a bulwark against Islamic terrorism,” INN continues.

“India has a long history of buying military equipment from Israel; in December, India purchased 15 drones from the Jewish State, in an effort to boost security along its borders with Pakistan and China.

“In 2009, India bought the Phalcon tactical and surveillance system from Israel, as part of a 1.1 billion dollar deal signed between India, Russia and Israel in January 2004. Israel’s military industry firm also announced plans at the time to establish five factories in India for the production of artillery shells.”

INN also cited a 2009 poll by Israel’s Foreign Ministry, which found that the people of India are Israel’s “best friends.”

The poll “surveyed 5,215 people from 13 countries described as ‘central’ ones, and found that 58 percent of Indians support Israel. In second place, 56 percent of U.S. citizens expressed support for Israel, as did 52 percent of Russians, 50 percent of Mexicans, 48 percent of Chinese and 39 percent of Italians.”

Written by: United with Israel Staff