India, Israel set to team up on cyber-defense

During Sunday meeting with Indian PM, Netanyahu reportedly floats joint military and civilian high-tech defense project

Gavriel Fiske is a reporter at The Times of Israel

Benjamin Netanyahu, left, meets with Narendra Modi in New York City on September 28, 2014. (Photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO/FLASH90)
Benjamin Netanyahu, left, meets with Narendra Modi in New York City on September 28, 2014. (Photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO/FLASH90)

Israel has reportedly invited India to participate in a joint effort on cyber-defense, a project that will aim to be a link between civilian and military authorities in both countries.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu extended the offer during a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York on Sunday, the Hindustan Times reported.

The invitation to collaborate comes at a time when India is focusing on building its own cyber-defense systems, in collaboration with other countries including the US and UK, the report noted. Modi also discussed cyber-defense, terrorism and other security issues during a subsequent meeting on Monday with US President Barack Obama.

An Indian official told the paper that “cyber security is an area where Israel is focusing a great deal about. They are futuristic in their approach.”

The joint Israel-India cyber-defense initiative would work alongside the Israel National Cyber Bureau, a unit of the Prime Minister’s Office set up in 2012 and charged with analysis of cyber attacks or potential threats.

Netanyahu and Modi also discussed nuclear developments in Iran and expanding bilateral ties between Jerusalem and Delhi. He also raised Indian-Israeli cooperation on high-tech, water and agricultural technologies.

“We are very excited by the prospects of greater and greater ties with India. We think the sky’s the limit,” Netanyahu said during a press appearance ahead of the meeting.

The prime minister said he was “delighted” to meet his counterpart and invited him to visit Israel, in what would be a first for a sitting Indian prime minister. Modi did visit Israel before he became prime minister earlier this year.

Both men are in New York for the United Nations General Assembly gathering of world leaders. According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the meeting was the first between the Israeli and Indian premiers in over a decade.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu raised the issue of the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran as well as the global threat posed by Islamic terrorism,” the PMO said in a statement released Monday Israel time.

While Israel has lobbied for a sanctions regime to isolate Tehran and force it to curb its nuclear program, India has remained one of the largest importers of Iranian oil.

India cut crude imports from Iran by 40 percent in 2013 under Western pressure, but boosted trade again once an interim deal easing financial restrictions was signed between Tehran and six Western powers in November 2013, according to a Reuters report.

Bilateral trade between Iran and India stood at $15.25 billion in 2013-14, according to the Mumbai based Economic Times.

But India is also one of Israel’s most important trade partners in the defense sector. A report in August put Israel as India’s fourth-largest arms supplier, with Delhi saying it spent $533 million over the last three years, according to Israeli news site Globes.

New Delhi only established relations with Israel in 1992, a delay often attributed by analysts to potential concerns within India’s Muslim minority and the developing nation’s need to preserve relations with wealthy Arab states.

Modi had previously visited Israel as chief minister of Gurajat province, a position he held since 2001.

Times of Israel staff and news agencies contributed to this report.

Most Popular
read more: