Describing India-Israel defence ties as a key pillar of their growing partnership, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen has said his country was willing to create more platforms of joint research and development to identify shared challenges, discuss and find solutions together. He said the scope for trade opportunities between India and Israel was huge and there is a strong desire to finalise a free trade agreement that will further strengthen the bilateral economic ties.
“The Indo-Israeli defence relationship has been a key pillar of the growing partnership. Our relations are based on three basic foundations: shared values, mutual interests and common challenges. With such well-synchronised defence cooperation, Israel was among the first countries to take up the call for the Make in India initiative and start joint projects with a manufacturing base in India,” he told THE WEEK magazine in an interview.
“We have no doubt in Israel that R&D serves as a growth engine for the local industry. That is why we are willing to create more platforms of joint R&D to pinpoint shared challenges, discuss and find solutions together, and even manufacture them together. Both sides have a lot to gain from this collaboration,” he added.
Commenting on the growing relationship between the two countries, Cohen said one of the major milestones has been Israel joining the Make in India initiative. “Now Israeli technologies and know-how are being transferred [for manufacturing] in India. Further, Israel continues to be India’s strategic partner. Beyond the continuous dialogue between many government ministries regarding agriculture, water, health, education, innovation, technology and more, there are plenty of activities underway, including joint ventures led by our business sectors and various organisations,” he said.
This continued expansion of the India-Israel bilateral relationship reflects the strategic alliance between the two nations, he added.
Terming the Haifa Port, a key link in the India-Middle East-Europe economic corridor, as a “strategic asset of Israel”, Cohen said the “fact that it is now put in the hands of an Indian company shows the level of trust and friendship our business ecosystems have in each other.”
The Port of Haifa is the largest and leading port in Israel. The operation of the port is overseen by the Haifa Port Company, which is owned by the Adani-Gadot Group. He said that the ultimate goal is to boost regional connectivity and increase trade opportunities in the region.
“We hope to see more such partnerships and collaborations take place between our business communities in future.” Cohen also said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shares a special friendship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and believes the strong strategic alliance between the two countries is a significant partnership benefiting both.
He hoped that Prime Minister Netanyahu would soon visit India and the agenda will be to explore ways to further boost bilateral relations in different fields. “I believe the scope of the FTA is far larger than trade numbers. We should discuss it with the vision of bilateral relations in mind,” the minister added.
He also said the US-brokered Abraham Accords (signed in 2020) have been a game-changer in bringing Israel closer to the Gulf nations. “The accords have created exciting opportunities for regional and multinational cooperation in energy, sustainability, tourism, security and much more. Increasingly, we are seeing deepening people-to-people ties and business opportunities,” he said.
“Israel aspires to continue this regional development that started with the accords and to expand the circle of peace and normalisation,” he added.
On the outcomes of the first I2U2 meeting in the UAE, he said I2U2 has huge potential and brings new opportunities. “It combines the strengths and resources of Israel, India, the US and the UAE to find innovative solutions to address some of the most critical issues of current times, including food and water security, energy and health,” he added.
When asked about the vision of the mobility pact allowing Indian workers to work in Israel, the minister said that the vision is to facilitate and boost employment opportunities for Indian workers in Israel. “The two countries are happy to collaborate to ease the process of arrival and recruitment of Indian workers. The mobility pact will also promote the protection of labour rights of these workers while working in Israel,” he said.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)