Netanyahu disappointed by ally Modi’s Jerusalem rejection
NEW DELHI – Agence France-Presse
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Jan. 15 he was “disappointed” by India’s refusal to back recognition of Jerusalem as his country’s capital but would not let it spoil his landmark visit to the Asian giant.
The Israeli leader arrived Jan. 14 at the head of the biggest business delegation he has taken on a foreign visit.
Netanyahu told the India Today media group, in an interview released Jan. 15, that he has a “special relationship” with his counterpart Narendra Modi.
But the run-up was clouded by India joining more than 100 countries at the United Nations in voting last month to condemn Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“Naturally I am disappointed but I think this visit is a testament to the fact that our relationship is moving forward on so many fronts,” Netanyahu said in the interview.
Ahead of the visit, India also cancelled a $500 million deal for Israeli Spike anti-tank missiles.
Israel exports an average of $1 billion of military equipment each year to India, but Modi wants to end India’s status as the world’s top defense importer.
But Netanyahu was again optimistic on the missile deal.
“I hope that this visit can help resolve this issue because I think there is a reasonable chance we can reach an equitable solution,” he said.
Declaring that no details could be given until the end of his tour, Netanyahu added: “Our defense relationship is quite significant and it encompasses many things.
“I think the keyword is defense. We want to defend ourselves. We are not aggressive nations, but very committed to making sure that no one can commit aggression against us.”
Netanyahu is the first Israeli leader to visit India in 15 years.