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India-Israel ties deeper than Modi and Netanyahu’s personal relationship, says Israeli diplomat

While Roey Gilad Said Both Countries Share The Belief That 'Middle East And World Should Be Stable', He Added That Israel Would Like To See India Be Less Friendly With Iran.

Roey Gilad, Israel's current charge d'affaires to Turkey | Source: Twitter, @RoeyGilad

Jerusalem, Israel: The relationship between India and Israel goes deeper than the bonhomie between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, who sealed his return to power last week, said Roey Gilad, an Israeli career diplomat and the current charge d’affaires to Turkey, while speaking to a group of journalists in Jerusalem Monday.

Gilad, however, also said that Israel would like to see India’s relationship with Iran to be “less friendly”.

Gilad’s remarks come as India and Israel mark 30 years of bilateral ties this year. In 2017, Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel, during which he and Netanyahu were famously photographed together at Olga Beach in Haifa city.

On 3 November, Modi congratulated Netanyahu on his success in the general elections — where the latter won 64 of the 120 seats in the Knesset.

“The relationship between Israel and India, developed over the past 30 years, is a very significant, positive and strong one. Indeed, the two leaders — Mr Modi and probably the new Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — enjoy good personal relationships, but it goes beyond the personal level,” said Gilad. “It goes into a deep, significant, strategic understanding and sharing the same strategic belief that the Middle East and the world should be a stable place (sic).”

While the diplomat remarked that the next Israeli government — yet to be formed as Netanyahu continues negotiations with coalition partners — will focus on developing Israel’s relationship with India and take it to a “new peak”, there was a caveat. “I think we would be happy if your (India’s) relationship with Iran could be less friendly. We know that energy is an important part of your relationship with Iran,” he said.

‘Cooperation between India & Israel second to none’

Gilad alluded to greater security cooperation between the two countries with the new government coming into power.

“I believe the cooperation between India, as a global superpower, and Israel, as a regional superpower, is second to none,” he said.

Asked if there will be increased engagement between the two countries on defence equipment, he said: “I cannot go into details, but as I said, the relationship is second to none and it is also true for the security relationship.”

India is among the largest buyers of Israel’s military hardware. Reports indicate that New Delhi has spent approximately $1 billion per year on Israeli-made arms in the past few years.