As per several media reports, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is planning another visit to India in order to further strengthen defence ties with India. As per media reports, Netanyahu could visit India in the second week of February. Israeli daily, Haaretz, noted that the country’s National Security Adviser, Meir Ben-Shabbat, had met PM Modi, NSA Ajit Doval and other senior security chiefs of India during a visit earlier this month. The daily stated that a “major arms deal” was likely to be on the agenda when the Israeli prime minister visits India.
It has also been reported that Netanyahu spoke to PM Modi over the telephone to plan a second visit to India. India has also shown interest in the additional security deals with Israel. The Israeli Prime Minister’s Bureau said that the meeting witnessed “discussions regarding relations between the two countries, promoting security deals, as well as agreements on additional actions to promote security, technological and socio-economical cooperation between Israel and India.” It must be noted here that Netanyahu became only the second Israeli prime minister to visit India a year ago, after Ariel Sharon who had visited India way back in 2003. The fact that Netanyahu is planning to visit India for the second time in such quick succession, goes on to imply two things; firstly, the emergence of India in the global arena as a power to reckon with. No one can afford to ignore India and the existing allies of India want to get even closer since they understand that India is going to be a global leader in the times to come. And secondly, Netanyahu’s visit will also highlight the growing proximity between India and Israel. The two countries always shared a decent level of proximity. However, under the incumbent Modi government the two countries are on the path of becoming close strategic partners.
India and Israel have strengthened their ties considerably when it comes to defence deals. Last year, India entered into a major defence deal as Israel is set to supply missile defence systems to India for $ 777 million. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced that it has bagged a contract from India for the supply of long-range surface-to-air missile (LRSAM) defence systems to the Indian Navy. The system to be supplied by Israel, which is considered a major Indian ally especially in the defence sector, is the naval version of the anti-missile defence system Barak 8. The Israeli company stated that the contract was entered into with the Indian state owned company Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) which serves as the main contractor in the project. Reportedly, seven Indian naval warships are going to be equipped with the said defence system.
Last year, it was reported that India was all set to get first missile armed drones that will give it the capability to carry out cross border cross-border strikes. The Heron TP-armed drones are capable of detecting, tracking and taking down targets with air to ground missiles, and are said to be on the wish list of the armed forces for years.
India and Israel share warm and close relations especially in the defence sector. Israel is the fourth largest weapons supplier to India after US, Russia and France. This explains the importance of Indo-Israel relations. Israel has itself been battling regional conflicts and its battle tested arms and defence systems can thus turn out to be very handy for India. With another visit to India, Netanyahu would look to take this alliance further. It is clear that Israel wants to take this relationship further and India is also reciprocating in the expected manner. As India is gradually becoming the centre of world attention, its strategic alliance with Israel is going to play a crucial part in its growth story.
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