Modi signs defense and technology deals in Israel but ‘forgets’ about the Palestinians

A visit to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv from July 4 to 6. Narendra Modi is the first Indian premier to travel to Israel. signed agreements include a $ 40 million package for innovation; Contracts worth $ 2.6 billion for defense and $ 4.3 billion for business. The prime minister does not visit Ramallah and the Palestinians.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - Coperation on Defense Systems, Agricultural and Aerospace Technology, Water Conservation, the Fight against Terrorism and Computer Crime. These are the main areas of collaboration agreed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on visit to Israel. The meeting was greeted as an "historic visit", the first of an Indian premier since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1992. According to analysts, the biggest push came from economic relations, through the signing of a dozen trade agreements. At the same time they underline a serious faux pas by the Indian leader who decided not to meet either the Palestinians or to go to Ramallah, unlike his predecessors who have in the past kept a much more neutral profile.

The visit to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv took place from July4 to 6. Prime Minister Modi was given full honors and, on his arrival, Benjamin Netanyahu called him "Israel's greatest friend." Afterwards, they signed important agreements, including a package of $ 40 million (€ 35.2 million) for an Innovation Fund, which aims to promote research and development in the fields of technological and agriculture, especially for irrigation systems.

Also in the commercial sphere, a previously agreed armaments deal for the "common fight against the threat of terrorism" was confirmed: a $ 2.6 billion contract (about € 2.3 billion) For the purchase of Israeli missile defense systems. On the third day of his visit, Modi met about thirty CEOs of Indian and Israeli companies, with whom he signed deals for $ 4.3 billion (nearly 3.8 billion euros). For other agreements, the Israel Space Agency (Isa) has to note those in the cultural and touristic field - with the opening of an Indian cultural center in Israel - and space cooperation between the Indian Space Research Organization (Isro). All these agreements should increase bilateral trade, from $ 4-5 billion to $ 20 billion over the next five years.

The trip was the occasion to strengthen ties with Israelis of Indian origin. About 80,000 Indian descendants live in the country, while another 5,000 live on Indian soil. According to tradition, Jews came to India about 1000 years ago, although oral tradition speaks of at least 3,000 years. Three Israeli communities reside in the South Asian country: Bene Israel, in Mumbai; Baghdadi Jews, in the vicinity of Calcutta; Cochin Jews, in Kerala. A fourth descendant, Bnei Menashe, in the northeast, was recognized in 2005 as one of the "Lost Tribes" of Israel.

On the one hand, Modi wanted to re-establish ties with Indo-Israelis, on the other, many complained that he had forgotten the Palestinians. Contrary to a consolidated tradition, which requires foreign dignitaries to visit Palestinian leaders, he preferred not to meet them. Lalit Mansingh, former Secretary of Foreign Affairs, explained that "India has already stressed that its relationship with Israel will have no effect on its position on the Palestinian issue". The official also recalled that "Modi took his precautions, inviting Palestinian President [Mahmud Abbas] to India a few months ago [in May]". The leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (Bjp, Hindu nationalist party) has decided to distance himself from his predecessors who, especially during the government of Indira Gandhi, expressed support for the Palestinian cause.