‘Road between Jerusalem and Ramallah doesn’t go via New York or Geneva’

NAYANIMA BASU New Delhi | Updated on January 12, 2018

DANIEL CARMON, Isarael’s Ambassador to India

UN ought not to dictate to countries on bilateral ties, says Daniel Carmon, Israel’s Ambassador to India

Daniel Carmon, Isarael’s Ambassador to India, believes it is not for the international community, in other words the UN Parliamentary Assembly, to suggest what steps Israel should take on its relations with Palestine. The road between Jerusalem and Ramallah does not go through New York, Geneva, Vienna or Paris. In an interview with BusinessLine, Carmon said the issue of having a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India is high on the agenda of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is visisting India from January 14 to 19. Excerpts:

Are you miffed that India voted in favour of the UN resolution last month urging the US to withdraw its decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel?

I once heard that the UN would do better if there were no member states. Because the dynamics of what is happening at the UN takes us far away from reality. There are so many breaches of human rights in the world but they are dealt with according to the dynamics within the groups within member countries, based on who is stronger and who is not. There are countries that are breaching human rights but you do not hear about them because it does not fit the politics. The Parliament, that is the international community, will not dictate to us. The road between Jerusalem and Ramallah does not go through New York, Geneva, Vienna or Paris. Just because they are the sites for headquarters of international organisations, they cannot be dictating to us. Only they who really know what is at stake are the real participants.

Do you see the defence cooperation between India and Israel continuing, considering the recent fiasco on ‘Spike’ missiles?

Defence is an important ingredient of our relations but it is not the only one. It has its own dynamics. Our efforts are dedicated to enrich the scope of our relations. You will see that during the visit of Netanyahu — agriculture, water and innovation will dominate the agenda.

Coming to bilateral economic ties, India is apprehensive that an FTA with Israel will not be mutually beneficial while Tel Aviv is pushing for it …

I don’t think India is putting obstacles on the way of Israeli businesses. Of course, trade, by definition, is something that you can never be satisfied from — you always aspire for more and you never reach the peak. The issue of FTA is definitely on our table. We feel it is an important instrument to ease doing business and to encourage business communities to do more business between the two countries.

Is there a deadline to conclude the FTA as the negotiations have been going on for the last 10 years?

Yes, there were quite a few rounds of discussions between both countries. We have to understand that we are two different systems and it’s not very easy to interconnect. But I feel there is a will and I can tell you there will be another round of discussions in February in Jerusalem. And notwithstanding a result or a timetable for the result, and if we are on the right way, we should remain hopeful and not count how many rounds we do or not do. The endgame, the road to FTA, will go through various stages and we are ready to go through those stages, we are not in a hurry and we are not here with a watch. Of course, the earlier the best. But there is a process and that is very important by itself.

What are the sectors you are looking at in India for greater market access under the FTA?

Any sector — agriculture, water, pharmaceuticals, technology and automobile industry. We don’t have an auto industry in Israel but we are part of the auto industry around the world with innovation that we bring to navigation, to security of car and even to other elements of building a car. And you will see many other elements, such as technological elements in auto industry around the world, so why not in India? So there are so many areas but we need easing of doing business through the lowering of tariffs.

Published on January 12, 2018

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