Ties with India intact, says Israeli Ambassador

On arrival both the leaders Modi and Netanyahu are expected to reach Sabarmati Ashram in a 8-km-long roadshow from Ahmedabad airport similar to one held by Prime Minister Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in September last year. Reuters fil

Netanyahu's visit comes after India voted in the United Nations against US' decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem, a vote Israel wanted otherwise.

Thus, it seems that the three issues that are central to the final Israel-Palestine settlement, i.e., emergence of a viable and sovereign Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital and the right of return of refugees, are being superseded by the deliberate creation of new realities in the occupied territories.

"I don't think it can influence the relationship".

In November, the defence ministry had chose to retract the process to acquire a batch of Spike missiles from Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defence Systems.

To try and drive home the point that it did not wish to be a mere buyer but wanted to attract manufacturing investments, India first cancelled and then said a $500-million deal to buy 8,000 Israeli Spike anti-tank missiles could be revived. In addition, the defence ministry last week announced cancellation of a deal for Spike anti-tank missiles, a decision that was judged to be most ill-timed. Netanyahu is arriving here with a 130-member business delegation that also includes the CEO of Rafael.

Cohen declined to answer questions on the subject in his briefing to journalists in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

Ahead of the visit, Israel's ambassador Daniel Carmon said the focus would be on "innovation", with Israel being a country of "start-ups".

"I do not want to elaborate on defence issues". Israel already is a major weapons supplier to India, selling it an average of $1 billion of military equipment each year.

In April last year the two countries signed a military deal worth almost $2 billion which includes the supply over several years of medium-range surface-to-air missiles, launchers and communications technology.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Israel last July in the first such trip by a holder of his office. PM Modi's visit past year has helped diversify the bilateral relation.

"Let's not forget that before Modi visited Israel past year, he hosted Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in New Delhi as well", Mr Taneja said.

"You can imagine the effect that would have on our tourism, on Israel's exposure".

The visit begins in New Delhi where Mr Netanyahu will have dinner with PM Modi and meet Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj. Meetings with President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President Venkaiah Naidu are also scheduled for Monday. On Tuesday, Netanyahu will deliver the keynote address at the Raisina Dialogue.

Ahead of Netanyahu's visit, Israeli bureaucrats and defence industry representatives have been holding strategy meetings on their approach to the Indian market ever since India made it known that it required them to set up manufacturing plants in the country for repeat orders.

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