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PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to India and the Indo-Israel relationship

Ahead of his visit to India, the official Twitter handle of Israel posted a video filled with warmth and love for India in spite of its negative vote at UNGA. PM Netanyahu has assured that India’s UNGA resolution vote won’t affect the relationship with India.

“Well I would have preferred a different vote to be frank but I don’t think it materially changes the tremendous flowering of relations between India and Israel.” – Netanyahu to PTI on India’s vote at UNGA

Indo-Israel Relationship : The Journey So Far

Mr Netanyahu will be the second Prime Minister of Israel to visit India. Mr Netanyahu’s visit comes within 6 months of Prime Minister Modi’s historic visit to Israel. This partnership is going to be one of the most important bilateral partnerships for India.  Israel is a key partner in areas of defence and agriculture. There is huge scope for co-operation in cyber security, water management and tourism as well. Here is a brief summary of major events in the relationship between these India and Isreal so far.

  • September 17, 1950 : India formally recognized Israel.
  • 1992 : India establishes diplomatic relations with India
  • 1997 : Ezer Weizmann , Israeli President visits India.
  • 2003: Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visits India.
  • 2016 : Israeli President Reuven Rivlin visited India for six days.
  • 2017 : Prime Minister Modi becomes the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel
  • 2018: Benjamin Netanyahu visits India from January 14-19

It is important to note that the relationship between India and Israel has progressed only under Prime Ministers who were not a part of the Nehru-Gandhi family. Minority appeasement in the domain of foreign policy is a perversion that could be imagined only by this brand of politicians. If India had developed relations with Israel long back, we could have secured their help in skill development, agriculture and defence manufacturing.

Recently, Israeli company Rafael defence systems has formed a joint venture with Indian defence manufacturer Kalyani. This kind of synergy will be a win-win situation for both India and Israel. India can get technology and generate jobs at home while Israel can get cheap labor and better access to huge defence sector in India. In addition to this, Israeli defence industries will also be able to do well because of the volume of orders it gets from India. According to some estimates, India accounts for 41% of Israel’s defence exports. These kind of bilateral partnerships in defence manufacturing must be given a further push in future.

Palestine Must Not Become An Irritant

Leftist/liberal/secular foreign policy journalists insist on dragging Palestine into the Indo- Israel partnership even though India is striving to de-hyphenate the relationship between India and these two nations. According to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs document, it is quite evident that India has already done way too much for Palestine state through monetary assistance and diplomatic support. The document on India- Palestine relations uploaded in July 2016 says :

  • India provided a budgetary assistance to a tune of US$ 30 million to Palestine in different stages.
  • During the visit of President Abbas to India in the year 2008, India announced a grant of US$ 10 million as budgetary support and this was transferred to Palestinein March 2009.
  • During the visit of President Abbas to India in February 2010, India announced a budgetary support of US$ 10 million and this was transferred in the month of March 2010.
  • Again in 2012, during the visit of President Abbas India announced a grant of US$ 10 million as  budgetary support to Palestine.
  • During the year 2015, India provided a total of $9 million as financial assistance to Palestine; $4 million was provided as project assistance towards the reconstruction of Gaza (on 12 January 2015), and $5million was provided as budgetary assistance (on 12 October 2015).

It is thus high time that India stopped worrying about Palestine and focus on how we can gain mutually from the bilateral relation with Israel. We must remain neutral in all international fora hereafter and leave the Palestine conflict to be dealt by Israel as per its own interests bilaterally with PLO. There is absolutely no need for India to lecture Israel about how it has to handle Palestine issue.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s Visit to India

Ahead of the Israel PM’s visit to India, an announcement regarding $68.6 million investment in the area tourism, technology, agriculture and innovation over a period of 4 year was put out by Israel’s foreign ministry. Defence cooperation, Bollywood, agriculture, innovation and water management are key issues on the agenda of the official visit. He will also be leading a business delegation of over 100 industry leaders to improve economic ties between the two countries . This press note has been tweeted by Israel’s ambassador to India, Daniel Carmon regarding the Isreal PM’s visit.

There is a bright future for both India and Israel in all domains. Hopefully, this visit will strengthen the ties between two countries. Israel is a good friend and India must treat it better than it has done in the past.

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