International Relation between India and Israel
The State of Israel attained independence in 1948. It received formal recognition by India only in 1950. In 1992 full fledged diplomatic ties were established. Since the up-gradation of relation in 1992, defence and agriculture have been the main pillars of bilateral engagement. In recent years, ties have expanded to areas such as S&T, education and homeland security. In 2017, Narendra Modi is the first Indian PM to travel to Israel 25 years after the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1992.
Defence & Science and Technology
India imports critical defence technologies from Israel. There are regular exchanges between the armed forces. India has often dependent on Israel for defence procurement. India is Israel’s top destination for arms exports, buying 41% of Israel’s arms export between 2012 and 2016.
In the last year, leading defence manufacturers, Israel aerospace industries and Rafael, have signed agreements with Indian counterparts. India – Israel deal to jointly develop a medium range surface to air missile system, Barack 8.
India and Israel also closely cooperate on counter-terrorism issues through a joint working group on counter-terrorism. The rise of Islamic extremist terrorism in both nations has generated a strong strategic alliance between the two. India recently launched a military satellite TecSAR for israel through its ISRO.
Besides, separate MoUs were signed between ISRO and ISA for cooperation in GEO-LEO optical link, and in electric propulsion for small satellites.
They agreed to set up a $40 million India-Israel Industrial R&D & Technical Innovation Fund, with both countries contributing $20 million each. They also agreed for cooperation between the ISRO and the Israeli Space Agency (ISA) regarding cooperation in atomic clocks.
In April 2017, India and Israel had signed a $2 billion deal for an advanced medium-range surface-to-air missile system which will be helpful for the Indian army to shoot down aircraft, missiles and drones etc.
Since 1992, India has developed significant defense and trade relations with Israel while also maintaining a strong commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state.
An Indo-Israel agriculture action plan for 2015-18 is operational, and 15 of the proposed 26 centers of excellence in agriculture are being developed in India with Israel’s help.
India has benefited from Israeli technologies in horticulture mechanisation, protected cultivation, orchard and canopy management, nursery management, micro-irrigation and post-harvest management. Israeli drip irrigation technologies and products are now widely used in India.
The two countries have agreed upon a three-year work programme in agriculture from 2018 to 2020.
Recently, the union cabinet approved a MoU with Israel on the National Campaign for Water Conservation in India. Being located in a semi-arid region with limited sources of fresh drinking water, Israel has developed water-management technologies which will be useful in India.
Bangladesh is increasingly being used as a transit point by drug dealers and the drug mafia, to different destinations. The land border is used as a route for smuggling livestock, food items, medicines and drugs from India to Bangladesh, which also created tension and law and order disorder in border areas of both countries.
Trade & Commerce
Trade between India and Israel has risen from the base of $200 million in 1908 to over $ 4.5 billion in 2015. Israel was India’s 38th largest trading partner. The trade balance stood in India’s favour at $1.10 billion in 2016-17.
The diamonds constitutes close to 50% of bilateral trade between both countries. In recent times trade has diversified into several sectors such as agriculture, pharmaceuticals, IT and telecom and homeland security.
Major exports from India to Israel include precious stones and metals, textiles and textile articles, chemical products, plants and vegetable products, and mineral products. Major imports by India from Israel include precious stones and metals, chemicals (mainly potash) and mineral products, base metals and machinery and transport equipment.
Diaspora & Cultural Relation
An estimated 85,000 Jews of Indian-origin live in Israel, the majority being from Maharashtra (Bene Israelis), with some from Kerala (Cochini Jews) and Kolkata (Baghdadi Jews). India is known in Israel as an ancient nation with strong cultural traditions.
First, it benefits both India and Israel in the defense sector. Israel has become one of India’s most important weapons suppliers, after Russia and the US.
Second, trade and defence ties have developed in isolation from the fluctuation of political events, whether these were regional crises (in Gaza) or domestic political transitions in India.
Finally, the current nature of the partnership means that state governments can directly seek collaborations and investments in agricultural and water technologies from Israel.
Despite all this, the structural differences between Indian and Israeli national security situations, worldviews, and the absence of explicitly shared enemies limit any stronger strategic rapprochement.
Limitations in the Relationship
Anti imperialism and NAM principle.
India was a founding member of the non-aligned movement, which coincided by with Israel’s invasion of Sinai in 1956 and other wars in following years. After post independence India follows anti imperialism and non-aligned principle as well. Due to this principled approach, India had to side with Arab states with regard to Israel-Palestine conflict. India proposed a federal structure in this issue. Even recently it backed the United Nations Human Rights Council call for an investigation into Israel’s Gaza strike.
Pro Arab stance of India.
India considers Arab states as strategically important and has to take pro Arab stance due to 3 important reasons-
a) Arab countries are important because of India’s relation with Pakistan.
b) India’s energy sector: As India needs regular oil supply from the Middle East. So it is very important for India to be in good terms with middle East.
c) The huge presence of India’s diaspora in Gulf region. Huge remittances they are sending plays an important role in balancing fiscal deficit.
Recent Changes in the Policy
Recently, PM Narendra Modi visited Israel. He is the first Indian PM to travel Israel after 25 years after the two countries established diplomatic Relations in 1992.
Both leaders also committed to cooperate for the early adoption of the comprehensive convention on international terrorism. India has also toned down its criticism of Israeli policies and abstained from voting process targeting Israel.
The new government has adopted a good balancing act to deal with Israel and Palestine policies. India has revamped its ties with Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Iran. On the other hand, India recently hosted the Palestine president.
This balancing policy clearly shows a pragmatic approach to deal with such a conflicting situation.
Seeing the present threats on Indian borders along China and Pakistan, India needs to have a strong military, naval and air base. Israel has developed technologies to fight terror and counter terrorism operations. India needs to tune with this balancing approach. Increasing its bilateral trade Relations is a welcome step for both the countries.
In recent years, bilateral ties have expanded to areas such as education, science and technology and homeland security. The future vision of the cooperation is of a strong hi-tech partnership as both countries leading knowledge economies.