Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, watch as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi flies a kite in Ahmedabad in January.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIT DAVE)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Thursday to congratulate him on his landslide victory, the second time this week that a key Netanyahu ally won an election abroad.
On Sunday Netanyahu congratulated Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on his surprise reelection the day before.
“Narendra, my friend, congratulations! What an enormous victory,” Netanyahu enthused in a phone call. Excerpts of the call were videoed and placed on the prime minister’s Facebook page, after it became clear that Modi had won a clear majority following an election process that took six weeks.
“I hope that we can see each other very soon, as soon as you form a government and as soon as we form a government,” Netanyahu said. “There is much to discuss on so many other things.”
Netanyahu thanked Modi as well for his warm wishes following the Israeli elections, but added a caveat: “There is one difference: you don’t need a coalition, I do.”
Netanyahu – who likes to underline Israel’s vastly improved relations with a number of countries around the world – tweeted his congratulations to Modi in Hebrew even before their phone call.
“Heartfelt congratulations, my friend @Narendramodi, on your impressive victory in the elections,” Netanyahu wrote. “The election results are more validation of your leadership and the way in which you lead the largest democracy in the world. Together, we will continue to strengthen the great friendship between us and between India and Israel, and bring it to new peaks. Well done, my friend.”
Israeli-Indian ties, which were developed and getting stronger under the Congress Party, soared following Modi and his BJP victory in 2014. In a testament to the strength of that relationship, Modi became the first Indian prime minister ever to visit Israel, in July 2017. Netanyahu reciprocated with a visit to India in January 2018.
Netanyahu’s congratulatory tweet was posted above a picture of him strolling barefoot with Modi on the Olga Beach near Haifa to see a demonstration of a mobile desalination unit.
Eran Lerman, a former deputy head of the national Security Council, said that Israel has “every reason to welcome” the outcome of the Indian elections. “Modi has positioned himself quite knowingly and systematically as an important friend of Israel, and we have no reason not to welcome his reelection,” Lerman said.
Modi “clearly looks upon Israel as an ally not only in military and strategic areas, but very much as a country that can help India go through the transformation that it needs in economy, innovation, agriculture and water,” said Lerman.