India, Israel looking to revive scrapped Spike missile deal: report

18 Jan 2018


India and Israel could still sign a deal to revive a scrapped $500-million Spike missile deal, although in a scaled-down form, if comments by visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his security advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat  are anything to go by.

Netanyahu on Wednesday said the two countries are working to revive a previously scrapped $500-million Spike anti-tank missile deal between India and Israeli defence contractor Rafael.

The Israeli prime minister, who visited Gujarat together with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Wednesday, said India is looking at ways to revive the record defence deal, even as he hailed new bilateral agreements with India.

Meanwhile, Israel's National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat said current talks on the Spike missile deal are trending in a positive direction, and the details will be finalised later.

Sources in the Israeli premier's entourage, however, believe the transaction, if takes place, would be worth only half of the originally agreed upon $500 million.

India decided to cancel the deal as the government feared that buying the missiles from Israel would hamper local missile development efforts; although some security sources say that the issue was actually a competing American offer.

While in Gujarat, Netanyahu together with Modi visited Sabarmati Ashram where Mahatma Gandhi lived for 12 years. The two later inaugurated a center for technological innovation and announced a plan for cooperation between start-ups from both countries, which aims to combine Israel's technology knowledge with India's product development capabilities. They also visited greenhouses that were established using Israeli technology with the help of Israel's Agency for International Development Corporation.

The Israeli prime minister who landed in Mumbai today was greeted with traditional song and dance ceremonies. The roadsides were adorned with huge banners bearing the photos of the two leaders, with crowds waving as they passed by.

Netanyahu visited a memorial for victims of the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai and joined Moshe Holtzberg, 12, who lost his parents in the attack at Chabad House in Colaba, South Mumbai. Netanyahu also met leaders of the Bollywood film industry.

''I've been in diplomatic life for 30 years and I've never seen anything like this,'' Netanyahu said. ''This expresses a personal and national tie, an international link which is incredibly powerful. There were tens of thousands of people there, maybe hundreds of thousands. I've never seen myself in such photos. It was moving, and it ought to make every Israeli happy, since India is a global power. India is amazing because it has two cultures that had been distant but after thousands of years have met in a way that's never happened in history.''

Netanyahu landed last Sunday in New Delhi, the capital of India, as part of a six-day visit marking the 25th anniversary of bilateral relations between the countries. Netanyahu's delegation includes representatives from Israel's security industries, who are working to salvage a deal cancelled by India to buy Israeli-made Spike anti-tank missiles made by Rafael.

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