Netanyahu and Modi.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A week before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes the first ever visit to Israel by a sitting Indian prime minister, the cabinet on Sunday approved a series of measures aimed at strengthening ties between the two countries.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, hailed Modi’s upcoming visit, calling it a “further expression of Israel’s military, economic and diplomatic strength.”
Netanyahu said relations with India, a country of 1.25 billion people and one of the world’s largest economies, are on a steady, upward swing, and that the relationship “is another expression of Israel’s international position, which has gotten stronger over the last number of years as we have strengthened Israel.”
Among the operative steps in the cabinet decision were measures aimed at increasing by 25% Israel’s non-diamond related exports to India, which today stand at $1.38 billion, over the next four years.
The decisions are also aimed at increasing the number of Israeli firms doing business in Israel; increasing the number of Indian tourists visiting here from some 45,000 today to 80,000 in four years; and providing incentives for the filming of Bollywood films in Israel.
In addition, the cabinet approved the establishment of a joint innovation, research and development fund.
While much of the press attention both in Israel and India surrounding Modi’s trip has been centered on the strong security relationship, Indian diplomatic sources said no major new defense deals are expected to be signed during the visit.
India and Israel agree to join forces to fight terror as Rivlin and Modi meet
Instead, the trip will focus on furthering cooperation in three areas of critical importance to India in which Israel can provide added value: water management, agriculture and technology.