Jerusalem: Describing former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as “a genuine friend of Israel”, the foreign ministry here has extended its deepest condolences to the government and people of India at the passing away of the Indian leader.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the government and people of India at the loss of India’s former PM Vajpayee. He will always be remembered as a genuine friend of Israel”, the foreign ministry said on its official twitter handle.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also conveyed his condolences calling the former Indian prime minister “a true friend of Israel”.
While diplomatic relations between India and Israel were established during P V Narsimha Rao’s premiership in 1992, they started to flourish during Vajpayee’s government when defence cooperation reached such a level that Israel started to be seen “as a reliable” partner by New Delhi in its hour of need.
This was most vividly visible and appreciated during the Kargil war when Israel quickly responded with vital supplies at India’s request.
Several high profile visits from India, including those of then Home Minister L K Advani and External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, happened during the BJP led government under Vajpayee.
Israel’s former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visited New Delhi in July 2003 with Vajpayee at the helm making it the first such visit between the two countries.
The second visit by an Israeli Prime Minister to India happened after a gap of fifteen years early this year in January.
Netanyahu also expressed his condolences to the Indian families who lost their loved ones in the recent floods in Kerala.
“Israel stands with India during this time of hardship”, he said.