Israel envoy hails ties with India

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Israeli Ambassador Naor Gilon said relations between the two nations are very warm and efforts are being made by Tel Aviv on the flagship Make-in-India programme.

Israel’s Ambassador to India, Naor Gilon who completes a year in office said that the two countries share wonderful government-to-government relations.

Marking one year as his country’s envoy to India, Gilon said, “It was a very intensive year. I fell in love with India from the first moment I landed here. Never saw such wide popular support. There are wonderful government-to-government relations. It’s a great experience.”

“It was my first time ever to India. The popular appreciation, love and friendship towards Israel from India – diplomats and ambassadors never thought (will get such ) wide support – all in all, its a great experience,” he added.

Sharing his achievements and experience of living in India, Gilon said that he has overworked his staff to increase the bonhomie between the two nations, which recently celebrated 30 years of official diplomatic ties.

Israeli Ambassador Naor Gilon with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“We have done so much in one year and am thinking that I have overworked my staff a little bit. We did here a lot of things around the 30 years of relations, starting with even lighting buildings, monuments in both countries and having special programmes – TV programmes about the relations,” said the Israeli envoy.

He also listed many projects conducted by the Israeli Embassy in the last one year.

“We did public diplomacy, women empowerment – we brought here women doctors for the underprivileged neighbourhood for treatment and awareness, we did programmes in IIT for women entrepreneurs, a fashion show with the local designers, and the models were diplomats, my wife and some of the girls who were beneficiaries of this assistance – we have murals in Connaught Place to remind us of three very special actresses – first women Bollywood actresses who were Baghdadi Jews from Mumbai. We are very proud of vast activities,” said Gilon.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his former Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu at the Olga Beach in Israel. (Photo Credit – Twitter/PM Modi)

In April this year, the Israeli Embassy had unveiled a street-art mural in New Delhi to mark 30 years of India-Israel friendship and to highlight the contributions of Indian-Jewish actors Nadira (Florence Ezekiel), Sulochana (Ruby Myers) and Pramila (Esther Victoria Abraham) who made a mark in the early years of Indian cinema.

Talking about agricultural cooperation between the two countries, Gilon said, “Also on the agricultural side, we are going to open soon the 30th Centre of Excellence in Agriculture and in the pipeline we have 12-13 more. We are doing a lot in the field of water, really the embassy is working. I have a good feeling when I look back at the first year.”

The programme aims to grow existing Centres of Excellence (CoE), establish new centres, increase CoE’s value chain, bring the Centres of Excellence into the self-sufficient mode, and encourage private sector companies and collaboration.

Though India officially recognised Israel in 1950, the two countries established full diplomatic ties only on 29th January 1992. As of December 2020, India was among 164 United Nations (UN) member states to have diplomatic ties with Israel.

Israeli Ambassador Naor Gilon planting the sapling of a sandalwood tree at Children’s Park, New Delhi.

Make-in-India plan

Underscoring the importance of India-Israel defence ties, ambassador Naor Gilon said that defence cooperation between the two sides is long and successful one and that Tel Aviv is very happy to be a strong partner in areas like UAVs, rockets, missiles and whatever defence system is needed by New Delhi.

Gilon said relations between the two nations are very warm and efforts are being made by Tel Aviv on the flagship Make-in-India programme.

“Defence cooperation is very long, very successful and very fruit full. For many years, even before our relations were as warm as they are today. Israeli companies are trying to adjust themselves to the programme of make-in-India. Meaning the biggest companies are starting joint ventures with very strong local players and together I think Israel can be a very strong player in the Make-in-India plan. We think it’s a smart plan,” he said on the question on India-Israel defence relations.

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Israeli ambassador stressed on being self-sufficient and added that no one will come to protect anyone today.

“If we learnt anything from what’s happening in Ukraine and other places is that countries have to be self-sufficient, and ready to stand and protect themselves. No one will come to protect anyone in the world today. This was our belief in Israel from the very first day. More and more countries are coming to this realization.”

The Israeli envoy stated that India’s bid for self-sufficiency is a smart move and Tel Aviv will be happy to help New Delhi in this endeavour.

“For India to be self-sufficient, as much as possible, in technology everything is a smart move. Israel is very happy to be a strong partner in UAVs, in rockets, missiles and whatever defence system is needed, we are happy to cooperate,” he said.

Lauding the incumbent government in India, ambassador Gilon said, “I have been a diplomat and ambassador in quite a few countries but never saw such a wide and popular support. And add to it wonderful government-to-government relations. Overall it has been a great experience.”

India-Israel-UAE-USA I2U2 Sherpas meeting held on margins of United Nations General Assembly.

Speaking on the I2U2, the envoy said, “A year ago, I2U2 was born. India, Israel, UAE and US are working together to improve the lives of everyone by building infrastructure. Two nice projects that are going to be here in India.”

“I think India gets a lot of points in the middle east because you are very strong, you have businessmen who are very dominant in the gulf countries, especially in UAE. You are the spearhead of the triangle that is created between UAE, India and Israel. I think that the potential there is huge,” he said. (ANI)

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