Competition, innovation to herald new ties with India: Benjamin Netanyahu


Mumbai: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday asked entrepreneurs to constantly innovate and compete, adding “competition and innovation” would mark the beginning of the new friendship between India and Israel. Netanyahu, the second Israeli Prime Minister after Ariel Sharon to visit India since 2003, was speaking at the Indo-Israel business summit 2018 here in Mumbai. Quoting from the iconic film Casablanca, Netanyahu said this was the beginning of a new friendship between India and Israel. In July last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the first ever Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel.

Around 60 Israeli companies representing some 15 sectors ranging from agriculture to fintech to renewable energy to water are part of the business delegation participating in the summit. Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis was also present at the opening of the summit.

Netanyahu said Israel was excited about partnering with India to increase farmer’s income “four to five times”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi aims to double the farmers’ income by 2022.

Netanyahu said the India-Israel partnership in the farm sector was an example of “winning together”.

Netanyahu pointed out the similarities between Israel and India saying both the countries appreciated the value of innovation and competition.

Lauding the efforts being made by Modi to improve the ease of doing business in India, Netanyahu said Israel had carried out similar measures to jump from the 27th position on the World Bank’s index of competitiveness to the 15th in just two years. “There are 15 countries in the world which make me lose my sleep. It’s not Iran or Syria. Switzerland makes me lose my sleep. Singapore makes me lose my sleep. US makes me lose my sleep. These are among the 15 countries that are ranked higher than Israel on the index of competitiveness. I am very competitive about Israel’s competitiveness and we want to be among the top ten,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu stressed his “personal friendship” with Modi and said it symbolized the ancient “ people-to-people bond” between the Indians and the Israeli community. “To quote from the movie Casablanca, this is the beginning of a new friendship, of our wonderful ancient relationship,” Netanyahu said.

The Israeli Prime Minister said the bond between India and Israel was not only a relationship between two people but a friendship between “two of the most ancient civilisations” which had several things in common like democracy, shared culture, and love for humanity.

Sharing the Israeli experience of cutting down the “regulations and bureaucratic excesses”, Netanyahu said Modi understood the value of innovation and “was doing exactly the same”.

“We have to continue this process not only in our countries but we also have to bring our countries together. Our ability to have this contact is enormous. If you come to Israel, you will be received with great hospitality. There is a deep and abiding interest in Israel about India, its people, their culture, civilisation, and humanity. Come to Israel, invest in Israel,” said Netanyahu.

Later, Fadnavis spoke of how around 2,000 years ago, the persecuted Jewish people had come to Mumbai and made the city their home. “Since then, they have been part of our history, culture, and community. They have also contributed to the building of Mumbai and of our state,” Fadnavis said. Referring to the memorandum of understanding (MoU) the Israeli company Mekorot Development & Enterprise Ltd signed with the government of Maharashtra on 18 January, Fadnavis said he hoped the Israeli companies would help the state change the face of agriculture and double the income of farmers.livemint