A special flight took off from Tel Aviv to New Delhi on Saturday, which included medical equipment and advanced technological treatments to deal with the corona virus. The flight also had security and defense experts, as well as diplomats (diplomats) returning to their own embassies or consulates (consulates) in the region. Dozens of sophisticated ventilators were also loaded in this particular flight before flying. It was named Mission-26, which would have been more meaningful ‘breathing space’.
At this time, Israel agreed to go against the rules and export ventilators to India, while both countries are constantly fighting this war against the spread of corona virus. This work of Israel was in a way an extraordinary gesture to welcome and say ‘thank you’ to India. A few months ago, despite such low availability, apart from medicines, diagnostic equipments were also sent to Israel. In this way, India and Israel turned the occasion of this unprecedented epidemic into an opportunity when the two countries can help each other and increase the relationship even further.
India and Israel’s relationship has improved dramatically in the last few years
India and Israel’s relationship has improved dramatically in the last few years. In such a situation, it is very difficult to believe that only 3 decades ago ‘Indian passport was valid for the whole world, but only except Israel. Today, India has become our most important friend in the Asia region. Trade between the two countries has increased from about $ 200 million in 1992 to $ 4 billion in 2018.
Ever since Ariel Sharon’s historic visit to India in 2003, Israeli and Indian Presidents, Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers have enjoyed hosting bilateral visits and discussions. Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar was also among the first discussions that Foreign Minister Ashkenaji held after assuming his new post. These are just a few signs, which point to the warmth in the relationship after the establishment of fully diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1992.
Increase in the number of Indian tourists visiting Israel
This betterment is seen with the same success in other areas. However, it is difficult to imagine a direct flight while staying in the dreadful shadow of Kovid 19. Air India’s direct flight from New Delhi to Tel Aviv started 2 years ago, which reduces the time it takes over Saudi Arabia. Due to this, Arab countries have moved towards normalization, such as Israel has also got help in meeting the strategic goals of improving relations in their region. The rest of the flights act as important bridges between India and Israel. This bridge was strengthened through a visa relief policy to Indian tourists. The number of Indian tourists visiting Israel increased from 16000 in 2000 to 70,000 in 2018.
One of India’s most important national security challenges is the provision of food security for such a large population. Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been continuously investing a tenth of its organization Agency for International Development (MASHAV) in India for many years. It has given financial help to establish 28 ‘excellence centers’ across India. These centers serve as ‘Agriculture Demonstration Farms’ and are providing innovative Israeli technologies and Israeli experts to help farmers in India.
In his last visit to India in January 2018, Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, went to his home state of Gujarat with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. There was an extraordinary moment, thousands of farmers flocked there to meet them and tell their stories to them. He told how the training received in Israel’s excellence centers has increased the yield of his fields by several times. The relationship between Israel and India is not only a relationship between governments, but also between society. India and Israel’s relations have penetrated into every part of Indian society. Even among the 650 crore citizens who depend on agriculture, who constitute half of India’s total workforce.
Israel’s cooperation has increased significantly in all areas including health, security, industry. Although water is the most important among our agenda, the situation in Israel is important to find a solution to this important problem of water scarcity in India. Through the joint cooperation of both the countries, both countries deeply appreciate each other for what is beneficial to them.
Under Narendra Modi’s leadership, India thinks of its role as a regional and global power, and our diplomacy has succeeded in showing India many of the advantages that can be attained by having a strong relationship with Israel. The Ministry of External Affairs is committed to ensuring that our relationship with India continues to grow in the future, to further our relationship with the second largest country in the world.
(The author is the deputy director general for Asia and Pacific in Gileed Cohen Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and these are his personal views)