The Israeli prime minister may want closer ties with India as the situation in Palestine deteriorates, but that’s not going to be easy
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuwill commence his return visit to India on Sunday, January 14, within six months of Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel. Modi’s trip had been the first visit of an Indian prime minister to the Jewish state, nearly 70 years after the state came into being and 25 years after India established diplomatic ties with it.
The last quarter of a century has seen extraordinary progress in bilateral relations: Israel is now India’s major defence supplier, security partner and source of important technologies in diverse areas including water, agriculture, energy, information technology and innovation. Both prime ministers share an interest in wordplay; hence, Netanyahu has named the “Israel India Innovation Initiative Fund”, I4F, while Modi uses the term “I4I” for “India for Israel and Israel for India”, conveying both mutual personal camaraderie and the solid substance of the relationship in frontier areas.
Prime minister’s programme
Taking a cue from Modi’s sojourn in Israel, Netanyahu’s visit to India will have a variety of engagements which, taken together, will exemplify the depth of the political relationship and the commitment to boost and diversify economic ties, and highlight the joint interest to fight extremism with the visit to Mumbai to commemorate the November 2008 attacks. Netanyahu will also be exposed to India’s popular culture, with a “road-show” along an eight-km drive from Ahmedabad airport to Sabarmati Ashram where the Israeli leader will see some aspects of Gujarat’s street culture.
This will be topped by Netanyahu’s engagement with Bollywood at an event titled ‘Shalom Bollywood’, at which he will meet the glitterati from cinema and plead with them to shoot their films in Israel, taking advantage of its beautiful landscape and its cinema-friendly weather.
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