National Security Adviser Ajit Doval has held talks with Israel’s top leadership here as part of preparations for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much- awaited visit, the first by an Indian premier to the Jewish country. Modi is expected to visit Israel by the middle of this year.
Doval landed in Israel on Thursday and met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his Jerusalem office. Doval also met his counterpart, Israel’s acting National Security Adviser and Head of the National Security Council, Brig. Gen. (retd) Jacob Nagel. The discussions “revolved around Prime Minister Modi’s expected visit this summer”, officials said.
Doval left for India later in the day concluding his short trip. India’s relations with Israel have made steady progress since the two countries established diplomatic relations 25 years ago in January 1992, irrespective of the party in power in New Delhi, but a prime ministerial visit to Israel has been long-awaited.
President Pranab Mukherjee visited Israel in October, 2015, in what was the first such visit by an Indian Head of State to the Jewish country.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin made a reciprocal visit last year at Mukhejee’s invitation in what was the second visit by an Israeli Head of State to New Delhi coming after a gap of almost 20 years.
The only visit of an Israeli Prime Minister to India happened in 2003 when Ariel Sharon visited New Delhi during the tenure of Atal Behari Vajpayee.
Modi’s visit is being discussed amid talks of a “close chemistry” between him and Netanyahu. The two leaders have already met twice on foreign soil on the sidelines of UN-related events and are said to have been in touch with each other over phone.
“I am happy that often we can talk easily on telephone, we can discuss everything. It has very rarely happened. In your case it has happened,” Modi had told Netanyahu during their meeting on the sidelines of Paris climate summit in 2015.
The Israeli premier had then promptly responded by saying, “in your case too”. India’s abstention in a UNHRC vote in 2015 on a UN report critical of Israel’s offensive in the Gaza war of 2014 was described by many here as a sign of a “qualitative leap” in relations which had transformed into “completely normal” ties without any “hangups” with many crediting the closeness between the two prime Ministers for the “change in heart”.
New Delhi, however, later clarified that the vote was a “principled” stand it had taken with the International Criminal Court having a reference in the resolution and did not mark “any shift in policy”.