April 2, 2023

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Diamond is the cornerstone of the India-Israel relationship

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Ramadhan (Israel) (AFP) – In his small office located in the Diamond Exchange district near Tel Aviv, Pravin Kukadia proudly presents his gemstones. Diamonds are a diplomatic and economic link between the jeweler’s country of India and the country of his residence, Israel.

Using a pair of tweezers gently, he says the diamond cutter reveals a particularly rare pink stone. Since 1996, Pravin Kukadia has made numerous visits to Israel as a buyer for the family business in Surat, West India, a major center for carving and polishing.

In 2003, the 56-year-old man, who specializes in the precious stones trade, immigrated to Israel with his wife and two children to enhance his career because, according to him, the country is “a leading player in the diamond industry” and a leader in innovation in the industry.

Indian balance

According to Pravin Kukadia, the Israeli Diamond Exchange has about thirty Indian companies, making India the most representative foreign country in the district, polishing the world’s largest diamond.

He explained to AFP that most Indian diamond families – about 80 – live in “single buildings” near the stock exchange in Ramadhan, a suburb of Tel Aviv. “We are one family,” he says.

According to Joshua Bex, Israeli lawyer for immigration procedures, Indian diamond cutters have a “special status” in Israel, which favors exchanges with India.

He says Israel makes it easier for Indian diamond cutters to get work permits.

“From 2018, they can work and live indefinitely in Israel and bring their families with them. Compared to two visas for diamond cutters from other countries, they have to renew their visas every three years.”

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Another notable fact is that State Bank of India (SBI) is the only foreign bank operating in this area with two Israeli banks.

“The diamond trade with India is worth $ 1.5 billion a year,” Boaz Moldovsky, head of the Israeli Stock Exchange, told AFP. “We export coarse stones, mainly imported polished stones,” he says.

According to him, “Diamond was one of the first products of the exchange between Israel and India in the early 1970s.”

Although India recognized Israel in 1950, it always expressed its support for the creation of a Palestinian state and refused to establish diplomatic relations with the Jewish state until 1992.

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of relations between the two countries, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Kants began an official visit to India on Thursday, calling for enhanced cooperation between the two countries.

Big deals

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Hindu nationalist organization of Narendra Modi, has signed several major deals since coming to power in 2014. Israel mainly sells $ 1,000 million worth of military equipment a year to India.

Relations in the field of innovation and technology are getting closer, the Israeli Innovation Commission told AFP. The two countries announced in October that the free trade agreement would be finalized by 2022.

In the “Diamond Tower”, one of the three buildings that make up the Stock Exchange complex in Ramat Khan, another Indian diamond cutter, Ranjit Parmesh, congratulates the good relations between the two countries.

The 72-year-old from Rajasthan in northern India was one of the first people to immigrate to Israel in 1979.

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Since then, five of his six grandchildren have been born in Israel, according to the Hebrew-speaking and “home-based” person.