Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday said that her country enjoys special ties with Israel.


The Indian minister expressed the view after her meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as the two leaders discussed the entire gamut of bilateral relations. Swaraj, currently on her maiden visit to West Asia as the External Affairs Minister, also said that India attaches the highest importance to the full development of its ties with Israel that has grown in various areas over the last 20 years. At the same time, she admitted that two countries are yet to utilise the full potential of their relations.

For his part, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that Israel is ready to take its ties with India to new height. “I take special pleasure in welcoming you here and sending my regards to my good friend and colleague Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The expression of this growing relationship has been in the visit of the (Indian) president, the first ever by an Indian head of state,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Israeli premier assured Swaraj that Jerusalem would intensify its contacts and co-operation with New Delhi in a number of fields, like science and technology, cyber, defence and agriculture, saying: “India and Israel are at the cutting edge of so many innovations and by working together, we can do a lot more for our people and the world.” Netanyahu, who is confident in Israel and India’s ability to strengthen their ties, insisted: “Sky is the limit that can be achieved between the two sides with limitless potential.”

Swaraj, who held separate meetings with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Infrastructure Minister Yuval Shteinitz and Deputy Foreign Minister Tsipi Hotovely later on Monday, arrived in Tel Aviv from Ramallah. In Ramallah, she had met her Palestinian counterpart Riyad Al Maliki and President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday.

During her meeting with the Palestinian leaders, Swaraj mentioned that New Delhi would work for closer political interaction and deeper economic engagement with Ramallah. “We are working for closer political interaction and deeper economic engagement with Palestine. I have discussed with President Abbas and Foreign Minister Al Malki on a wide range of bilateral, multilateral and regional issues,” she told the local media.

The visiting minister explained that India’s approach to Palestine has crystallised into a policy with three core dimensions: solidarity with the Palestinian people, support to the Palestinian cause, and support to Palestine’s nation-building and capacity-building efforts.

The entire Indian political leadership remains steadfastly committed to these policies, stressed Swaraj. Upon her arrival in Ramallah late on Saturday, she paid tributes at the mausoleum of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]