Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of the renowned Jewish country Israel, is on a six days official visit to India to strengthen Israel-India relations. Despite the fact that India voted against Israel at the UN, favouring the Arab resolution to denounce the US decision in reorganization of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, it did not impede their relationship. Netanyahu is in India with a high hope of strengthening business and diplomatic ties.
After six months of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic visit to Israel, Netanyahu is the second Israeli counterpart after PM Ariel Sharon to visit India in the last two and a half decade of diplomatic relationship. Moreover, more than hundred delegates from various sectors including cyber, agriculture and defence have accompanied the Israeli Prime Minister. Mr Netanyahu is also expected to attend “Shalom Bollywood” event to reach out to Bollywood personalities that aims at exploring business opportunities for Indian filmmakers in Israel.
Israel-India Relations- a marriage made in heaven
Modi is the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel. Under his rule, Israel seems to have acquired greater priority over other West Asian nations in India’s diplomatic agenda. Netanyahu said in an interview, “I speak to my dear friend Modi quite often. When we met once, he told me ‘India wants Israel’ and that I see a paragon of fraternity between our two countries.”
In an interview with India Today, Netanyahu said “I don’t think one vote affects a general trend you can see in many other votes and these visits. First of all, there is a special relationship between the two countries, between their people and then between the leaders. The partnership between India and Israel is a marriage made in heaven but consecrated on earth.”
Diplomacy of India-Israel relations
On September 17, 1950, India officially recognized the State of Israel and permitted to open an Israeli consulate in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1953. Despite its recognition, the relationship remained nothing more than an informal diplomatic relation because of the cordial relations with the Arab countries. Over the time, this relationship has grown and a bilateral tie has been established between the two nations.
With the establishment of the Indian Embassy in Tel Aviv (Israel) in January 1992, the relationship between the two nations switched to a formal one and it’s flourishing since then. After a diplomatic shift from pro-Arab policy and formation of Organization of Islamic Cooperation, India–Israel relations got fueled further and managed to maintain healthy relations.
Modi’s soft corner for Israel
Modi has marked the beginning of an era by being the first Indian head of government to visit the Jewish state. None of the Indian prime ministers have travelled to Israel earlier. Although Modi Government is still assuring and continuously denying any kind of fundamental changes in India’s policy with regards to the Palestinian issue but at the same time it has officially delinked India’s relationship with Israel by carefully pushing aside the policy governing attention to the sensitivities of Palestinians.
Tracing back Modi’s close ties with Israel when he was the chief minister of Gujarat, the present diplomatic closeness and the rising business ties with Israel are telling another side of the untold story. Do you also smell the barn? With the denial of the access to US and European weapons markets as a consequence of India’s negation on the Non-Proliferation Treaty, India has found in Israel a prospective surrogate for supply of advanced military equipment.
Past and prospects of India-Israel relations
Israel has always shown its clear stand on friendly relation with India by prioritizing security and defence trade support. Even during the historical Kargil War, Israel came forward and helped India with much-needed imagery of Pakistani positions using its UAVs which helped in turning the war around for India. Also, during the execution of Operation Parakram in mid-2002, it’s said that Israel supplied hardware through special planes.
Currently, India has become one of the largest buyers of Israeli military equipment. By lagging Russia behind in advanced military technology, Israel is the second-largest defence supplier to India. If the media reports are to be believed then in 2017, India has also signed a military agreement worth USD 2 billion with Israel.