Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on Tuesday sought more investment from Israel to manufacture military hardware in India.
With External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar playing host to his counterpart from Tel Aviv, Eli Cohen, in New Delhi, India signed two agreements to expand its agriculture and water cooperation with Israel. They also initialled an agreement on mobility.
Cohen also met Defence Minister Rajnath Singh who urged Israeli companies to invest more in India. Singh said Israeli companies should forge joint ventures with local partners to manufacture defence equipment in India.
Cohen arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday even as Israel Defence Forces launched waves of airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. Though the Israeli foreign minister was scheduled to visit New Delhi, Agra and Mumbai from May 9 to 11, he cut short his tour and returned after meeting Jaishankar, Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.
“I was happy to meet today with the Prime Minister of India @narendramodi, a true friend of Israel,” Cohen tweeted, adding, “India is a world power, the fifth largest economy and the most populous country in the world. I spoke with Modi about strengthening the strategic relations between the countries, expanding the Abraham Accords, and promoting a free trade agreement that will boost Israel's economy.”
In 1974, India became the first Non-Arab State to recognise the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. In 1988, India became one of the first countries to recognise the Palestinian State. But New Delhi’s growing ties with Israel after the Bharatiya Janata Party’s ascent to power in May 2014 fuelled speculation about India reviewing its position on Palestine.
Modi's government made it clear that while India would continue to support the cause of Palestine, it would also seek to build stronger ties with Israel.