Sushma Swaraj, India’s newly appointed foreign minister, has in the past publicly defended Israel against naysayers, and is said to be a strong admirer of the late Israeli prime minister Golda Meir.
Swaraj, 62, the first woman to receive the foreign affairs ministerial portfolio, called Israel “a reliable partner” in 2008, according to the Economic Times. The statement arose in the context of criticizing the left-wing parties’ opposition to the Israel-India diplomatic relationship. Swaraj came to Israel’s defense and asserted that the government recognized the significance of ties with the Jewish state as well.
Swaraj also served as chairwoman of the Indo-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group from 2006 to 2009.
As the first female in that – and many other – political positions in India, Swaraj is said to look to Meir for inspiration. Like Swaraj, Meir had served as foreign minister under prime minister David Ben Gurion in 1956.
Swaraj boasts a long list of accomplishments in her 30-odd-year political career: At the age of 25, she became the youngest cabinet member India has ever voted into parliament; she was also the first female chief minister of Delhi and the first female political spokesperson.
Swaraj’s appointment, along with the election of Narendra Modi as India’s new prime minister, bodes well for Israel’s increasingly warm ties with its South Asian ally.
Read more: Times of Israel