Thirty years after India became the first non-Muslim state to recognize the State of Palestine, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed off on a joint statement on Wednesday, July 5, that mentioned the Palestinian-Israel diplomatic process, but did not refer to a two-state solution.
Not only did Modi not visit the Palestinian Authority during his 49-hour visit in Israel, but the visit passed without him once publicly referring to the Palestinian issue. Modi arrived for a three-day visit in Israel on Tuesday, July 4. Alongside meetings with government officials, Modi travelled across the country and meet with leading Israeli and Indian business people.
Before Modi and Netanyahu made statements to the press, seven bilateral agreements were signed between the two nations. These include one which expands the work of Mashav, Israel’s Agency for International Development, inside India; another set up a $40 million joint research and development fund to be paid for jointly by the two countries; three agreements enhance space cooperation; and two deal with water management and conservation.
Defense cooperation between the two countries has been, for the last 25 years, the relationship’s primary engine, with Israel being one of India’s top three weapons suppliers, but this is something that neither man spoke of to any significant degree.
Nevertheless, the joint statement reaffirmed “the importance of bilateral defense cooperation over the years,” and said, “It was agreed that future developments in this sphere should focus on joint development of defense products, including transfer of technology from Israel.”
The intensive preparations for Modi’s arrival were a testament to the fact that Modi’s visit to Israel is seen as the most important this year by a foreign leader, with the exception of that by US President Donald Trump; so important, in fact, that Modi stayed in the same luxury suite in Jerusalem’s King David Hotel that Trump stayed in during his visit. Modi’s reception, which has been in the planning for months, was accompanied by much pomp and circumstance. A red carpet was rolled out in his honor, and among his greeters was be Michael (Mikey) Federmann, the head of the Dan Hotels group, which owns the King David Hotel.
Federmann is also the chairman of Elbit System, an Israel-based arms and aerospace manufacturer, which has signed major deals with the Indian government. Thus, Elbit is now part of a group of Israeli arms exporters that have a role in Modi’s plan to modernize the Indian Army.
According to the Communist, Hebrew language weekly, Zo Haderech: “It appears that more than ever, Modi’s nationalist and right-wing ideology has bolstered India as a decisive factor on the diplomatic stage in the eyes of Israel — a place in which, globally, the Indian leader no longer enjoys such popularity. Modi’s attitude toward the Muslim population of India, the largest religious minority in the country, certainly fits the guiding principles of Israel’s right-wing government and Netanyahu’s racist policies.” The title of the article in Zo Haderech is “The Same Hate.”