News WrapGet Handpicked Stories from our editors directly to your mailbox

One vote can't change dynamics of Indo-Israel relations: Benjamin Netanyahu

Visiting Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday termed Tel Aviv's relations with New Delhi as "marriage made in heaven".

One vote can't change dynamics of Indo-Israel relations: Benjamin Netanyahu

New Delhi: Just one negative vote at the United Nations cannot change the dynamics of age-old bilateral ties between India and Israel, visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said here on Sunday, terming relations with New Delhi as "marriage made in heaven".

"I don`t think one vote affects a general trend you can see in many other votes and everything and these visits," Netanyahu said when asked to comment on India`s vote at UN against US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel`s capital, in an interview to a TV news channel. 

"Yes, naturally we were disappointed, but this visit is a testimony that our relationship is moving on so many fronts, be it political, technological, tourism, security and so many other areas. Ultimately you see it reflected in all UN votes, not just now but soon," he added.

In December last year, India had voted in favour of a resolution brought by Turkey and Yemen in the UN opposing the United States` decision recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The resolution was approved with 127-9 at the UN General Assembly. 

Read: PM Modi breaks protocol, receives Benjamin Netanyahu at airport with a hug

"First of all, there is a special relationship between the two countries, between their people and then between the leaders. The partnership between India and Israel is a marriage made in heaven but consecrated on earth," Netanyahu said, adding he respects his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi "as a great leader" because he is "impatient to bring future to his people".

On cooperation in counter-terrorism, he said that intelligence is the key. 

"And Israel has, on the whole, superb intelligence. I would say none is better. And we share with you our intelligence and have stopped over the last few years some 30 major terror attacks, which we shared vis-a-vis not India alone but with dozens of countries.''

"Israel protects lives of so many people. When you board a plane you want to know that plane won`t be blown up mid-air. It will take off and land safely. When that happens, usually Israel has something to do with it, not on every flight but on many flights," he said.

Asked if he approves India`s terror strikes launched across the border with Pakistan, he said that India makes its own choices and "you fight terrorism by fighting it". 

As the interviewer persisted, a smiling Netanyahu said, "Well, I am trying to be a foreign minister. I am trying to be a diplomat because I hold two portfolios - the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister at the same time."

Asked if Israel can use his good offices with China to persuade it to not veto a resolution against Lashkar-e-Toiba chief Hafiz Saeed, Netanyahu said, "I think these things are best discussed not on television, especially if you want to make progress." 

Read: 'Friend' Benjamin Netanyahu's India visit 'special and historic', says PM Modi  

However, he also said, "But our defence relationship is quite significant and comprises many things. I think the key word here is defence. We want to defend ourselves, we are not aggressive nations. We are very committed to making sure that none can commit an aggression against the either one of us."

On the bilateral trade relations, the Israeli Prime Minister said that "there is a whole world that is erupting, exploding".

Advocating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India to boost and deepen bilateral economic relations, he said, "Israel is changing so rapidly. We are creating industries. We have just created a car industry in just last five years. We have 500 start-ups dealing with automation of car.''

"And there are other areas like water, agriculture, energy, health and transportation. There is a whole world that is erupting, exploding. Future belongs to those who innovate... Israel is an innovation nation. India has innovations. In Silicon Valley, there are two dialects you hear - Hindi and Hebrew and only a little English."

He said that when he visited the iconic 'Teen Murti' war memorial at Haifa circle, he felt "an expression of gratitude" because it was Indian soldiers who fell down while defending the city of Haifa (now in Israel) during WW-I.

Read: Delhi's Teen Murti Chowk renamed after Israeli city Haifa; PM Modi, Benjamin Netanyahu attend ceremony 

"It`s closing of a circle 100 years later," he said.

In a sign of growing importance to the ties with Israel, the government on Sunday renamed Delhi`s Teen Murti Chowk as 'Teen Murti-Haifa Chowk' after the Israeli city. 

Netanyahu is on a six-day visit to India, the first Israeli Premier to visit India after 2003 when Ariel Sharon came.

Setting aside protocol, Modi went to personally receive Netanyahu.

(With PTI inputs)