India and Israel Relations

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by BangersAndMash, Jul 29, 2012.

  1. BangersAndMash

    BangersAndMash Regular Member

    Apr 24, 2011
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    Published: July 2012


    Israel and India were created at approximately the same time and despite different perceptions have been reliable partners. The creation of Israel was opposed by Mahatma Gandhi but the erstwhile Jansangh (present Bharatiya Janta Party) recognised Israel as a friend right from its inception.

    India after gaining independence championed the Non Aligned Movement and the main leaders were Gamel Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Tito of erstwhile Yugoslavia and Jawaharlal Nehru of India. To the contrary, Israel was firmly wedded to the Western powers and posed a problem for overt relations with India.
    Militarily, Israel always looked at India as a partner, particularly against nuclear proliferation. Reports indicate that Israel supplied heavy mortars and ammunition to India through European outlets before the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971. Further Israel has been concerned about acquisition of nuclear weapons by Pakistan and would not hesitate to take military action if presented an opportunity.
    The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 saw the end of the Cold War and the beginning of multiple relationships between countries. The Indian economy was opened up and this saw new relationships being developed with countries having High Technology. Official relations were opened between the two countries and thereafter they have become strategic partners in the region.

    Political Relationship

    India gained independence on 15 Aug 1947.
    On 29 Nov 1947, a resolution was passed by the United Nations General Assembly that Palestine would be partitioned and the Jews would have a homeland in the partitioned state. On 14 May 1948, David Ben Gurion declared the independence of Israel and on 16 May 1948, the only Jewish majority state was formed. Arabs immediately declared war but Israel was able to stabilise its boundaries.
    India after its independence adopted a foreign policy which was pro Arab and anti Israel.
    The reason was the Indian leaders’ ideological affinity with the Arab states, as second, the need to have good relations with the Islamic countries and later, to win Arab support in the Organisation for Islamic Countries (OIC), which was set up in 1969. Further, India’s foreign policy emphasised on nonalignment in which Israel was a Western block ally and did not fit in.
    Therefore India continued to support the Arabs during the 1967 and 1973 Arab Israeli wars. Covertly Israel always maintained friendly relations but it was only after the Gulf War in 1991 that India realised the need to be pragmatic in dealing with foreign countries and this is the time when gears were changed and India commenced its political relationship with Israel.
    There were numerous factors responsible for this shift in India’s foreign policy. In 1991 the Soviet Union had broken up and Russia failed to support Iraq during the attack by US forces and Kuwait. The Soviet Union itself collapsed on 25 Dec 1991 bringing an end to the Cold War.
    More than 70 percent of India’s defence equipment came from the Soviet Union and it was extremely difficult to ensure spares and maintenance of the equipment was undertaken with assurance from the 15 newly formed sovereign republics. India knew that Israel had captured Soviet equipment during the 1967 war. Further Israel had developed upgrades and spares for all these equipment. It was in India’s defence interest to collaborate with Israel, which also had access to better western technology.
    Significantly, despite India’s request, the Arab countries in the OIC voted against India with regard to the Kashmir issue.
    There was a need to modernise the Indian Armed Forces and the route of seeking assistance from Israel appeared viable. The Indian Government had to move from a philosophical foreign policy to a pragmatic foreign policy.
    The Indian Government during this period moved from democratic socialism to an open economy, and the Non Aligned Movement was no longer the cornerstone of the country’s foreign policy. India soon realised that its Area of Interest included the Strait of Hormuz, Suez Canal and Bab el Mandab. The change in India’s vision and its desire to emerge as a strong nation, naturally led her to open diplomatic relations with Israel.
    In Feb 1992, Israel opened its Embassy in New Delhi and in May 1992 India opened its Embassy in Tel Aviv. The opening of diplomatic relations saw a strategic partnership between the two countries.
    Two decades have elapsed since then, and the relationship has prospered due to democratic traditions, similar judicial systems, ease of communicating in the English language and exchange of technical and industrial knowledge.
    This has been strengthened by the presence of 70,000 Indian Jews in Israel and frequent visits by the youth of Israel who are fascinated by India. The strengthened political relationship has resulted in enhanced economic cooperation between the two countries.
    In 1992, the primary trade between the two countries was diamonds and amounted to about $200 million. Currently the two way trade between India and Israel is $ 5.15 billion, largely due to the purchase of Phalcon AWACS radars, EW systems and UAVs.
    India exports to Israel precious stones, metals, chemical products, textiles, plants, vegetable products, rubber, plastics and machinery. The imports from Israel are jewellery, machinery, transport and defence equipment.
    A Free Trade Agreement is currently being negotiated between the two countries. The present Foreign Direct Investment inflows from Israel to India in the last decade is $53.24 million, which is small quantitatively but is directed at important sectors like renewable energy, telecommunications, real estate and water technologies.
    Israel has signed bilateral agreements for assisting in agriculture. Though located in desert terrain, fruit and vegetables are grown by innovative methods, thereby enabling Israel to export fruits and vegetables globally. Currently Israel is setting up centres of excellence for fruits at Sirsa (Haryana) and vegetables at Karnal (Haryana). Israel is working on technologies related to water conservation, desalination, waste water management and micro irrigation in India.

    Defence Cooperation

    One of the main reasons for establishing diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992 was driven by the potential in defence cooperation.
    Israel has a state of the art defence industry and is willing to cooperate with India in all spheres of defence activities. In March 1994 Israel’s Research and Development Chief visited India. This was followed by the visit of India’s Defence Research and development Organisation (DRDO) Chief to Israel in 1996.
    In December 1996, President Ezer Weizman, accompanied by a 24 member business delegation visited India. After that, Israel offered India technical cooperation in military aircraft, reverse engineering and the upgrading of weapon systems. India posted its first Defence Attaché in 1997 and this paved the way for enhanced defence cooperation between the two countries.
    In 1996 India purchased an Air Combat Manoeuvring Instrumentation which was established at Air Force Station Jamnagar. Thereafter two Dvora patrol boats were procured for the Indian Navy at a cost of $10 million. In the same period Tadiran provided state of the art frequency hopping radio sets to the Indian Army, ELOP provided the Long Range Observation Reconnaissance System (LORROS), Soltam in conjunction with Ordnance Factory Board agreed to upgrade the 130 mm Gun bought from the Soviet Union.
    Elta was to upgrade the avionics of the Mig-21 fighters and finally negotiations were on for the sale of Barak-1 missiles to the Indian Navy.
    Israel also sold one Green Pine radar to India, and although no software was given with it, the radar helped the Indian scientists to understand the sophistication of advanced electronics.
    The strengthening of defence relations moved into a higher trajectory after 1999, when Pakistani troops infiltrated into India and triggered the Kargil War. India needed some systems immediately, and Israel readily came forward with the supplies, in some cases within weeks if not days.
    This was the first time that a pragmatic defence engagement began with Israel.
    But defence procurements from Israel have become important, and after initially acquiring three Phalcom AWACS, IAF has asked for two more.
    Israel has also provided Indian with state of the art night vision devices and laser guided bombs, Long range EL/M-2083 radars, and an assortment of air defence missiles from Barak to Spyder.
    Israel has been cooperative in selling defence equipment and sharing critical technology which has been important for India to modernize its Armed Forces.
    Politically, India and Israel are also firm in their bilateral relationship, and in Jan 2012, Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna visited Israel, indicating the growing strength of ties between the two countries.

    By Maj Gen P K Chakravorty (Retd)

    ..:: India Strategic ::. Foreign Affairs: India and Israel Relations
    Aayush and W.G.Ewald like this.
  3. agentperry

    agentperry Senior Member Senior Member

    Oct 24, 2010
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    BJP has office in israel

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