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Didn’t choose ‘megaphone diplomacy’: How Israeli media reacted to PM Modi’s visit

Reports focussed on several aspects of the Prime Minister’s trip, including the rock star welcome he received and even drawing comparisons to the fan mania Britney Spears inspired.

india Updated: Jul 07, 2017 07:09 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Modi in Israel,Israel,Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart from Israel Benjamin Netanyahu during their visit to Israeli museum to witness an exhibition on India-Jewish Heritage, in Jerusalem. (PTI Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not publicly referred to the Palestinian issue during his groundbreaking visit to Israel even as he held discreet talks on enhancing security cooperation to counter international terror groups such as the Islamic State, the Israeli media reported on Thursday.

Media reports also focussed on the rock star-welcome given to Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu during an event organised at the Convention Center in Tel Aviv for Indian-origin Israelis.

The Jerusalem Post noted in a report that 30 years after India became the first non-Muslim state to recognize the state of Palestine, Modi and Netanyahu signed off on a joint statement on Wednesday that “mentioned the Palestinian-Israel diplomatic process, but made no reference to a two state solution”.

The report also noted that “not only will Modi not be visiting the Palestinian Authority” but the “first day and a half of the visit passed without him once publicly referring to the Palestinian issue”.

The penultimate clause of the 21-clause joint statement said the two premiers had discussed developments in the “Israeli-Palestinian peace process” and underlined the need to establish a just and durable peace. They also reaffirmed support for an early negotiated solution based on mutual recognition and security arrangements.

Read | Modi and I are reformers who want to seize the future, says Israeli PM Netanyahu

An unnamed senior Indian official told the Post it was not New Delhi’s “style to engage in ‘megaphone diplomacy’, or go to other countries and lecture them on what they need to do”. The official said this was because, to a large degree, “India does not like it when other countries come to India and lecture it about relations with Pakistan”.

The Times of Israel reported that the public aspect of Modi’s visit had focused on economic and technological cooperation as New Delhi is “said to be keen to de-emphasise defence ties, in order not to hurt India’s economic links with Iran and other countries hostile to Israel”.

The report cited the Hebrew media as saying that Modi and Netanyahu held “discreet talks” on Wednesday on enhancing security cooperation. The two leaders were joined by Mossad chief Yossi Cohen for a discussion on “bolstering intelligence and security cooperation, especially against international terror groups such as Islamic State”, it added.

The media reports also noted that some three months after saying that Israel’s relationship with China was a “marriage made in heaven” in Beijing, Netanyahu had used the same term to describe the relationship with India.

The Haaretz reported Netanyahu brought up India’s investigation of a 2012 attack on a vehicle of the Israeli embassy in New Delhi. It quoted officials in the Prime Minister’s Bureau as saying that Netanyahu asked Modi whether any progress was made in the probe.

The attack, for which Israel holds the Iranian Revolutionary Guards responsible, injured the wife of the military attaché at the embassy. The report noted that India “has refused to place the blame on the Iranians, and has yet to prosecute any suspects involved in the attack”.

Modi’s interaction with Indian-origin Israelis and the boost given to business and cooperation in high technology by the signing of seven agreements was also widely reported by the Israeli media.

The Times of Israel referred to the warm welcome given to Modi and Netanyahu at the event organised for Indian Israelis and said pop star Britney Spears was “no longer the only act in Tel Aviv drawing unchecked excitement and unabashed fandom”.

Read | India, Israel turn ‘marriage made in heaven’ into strategic partnership

Thousands of Indian Israelis joined the “glitzy, wild welcome” for the first Indian premier to visit the Jewish state, as their “brightly coloured Indian saris mingled with jeans and t-shirts — and not a few kippot and religious headscarves — at Wednesday’s event, which began with several Bollywood dance acts and a concert”.

“It gives me chills,” Naomi Yakub, who immigrated to Israel from India in the early 1970s and is part of the community of some 100,000 Indian Jews, was quoted as saying by the Times.

The Israel Hayom newspaper reported that the series of sweeping trade, commerce, and research and development treaties signed by the two sides would expand bilateral trade and bolster existing economic ties. India, due to its size and inherent potential, is a strategic market for a number of Israeli industries such as IT, agriculture and agro-tech, pharmaceuticals, biotech, and medical devices.

India is Israel’s 10th largest trade partner worldwide and its second largest trade partner in Asia, after China and Hong Kong. In 2016, trade between Israel and India was worth $4 billion.

First Published: Jul 06, 2017 13:18 IST