Since 1992, Israeli leaders and state representatives have visited India almost two dozen times, while their Indian counterparts have made a similar number of visits.
Although no Indian Prime Minister has visited Israel so far, the visit made by President Pranab Mukherjee in 2015, reflects a robust relationship between the two nations. There is assumption that PM Modi will be the first PM to visit Israel. Let us now dive deep into the details and understand, why Indo Israel relationship is close and is set to grow even further.
Many experts have called India and Israel natural allies, and there are good reasons for that.
1. Both countries emerged from British rule. The Brits ruled India from 1858 and 1947 as the British Raj, a period which does not include the previous 100 year reign of the British East India Company (see details here). Britain conquered Palestine from the Ottomans in 1917-1918 and ruled the country under the legal framework of a UN Mandate from 1920-1948.
2. Same Birthday: Well, almost. India was freed from British rule on 15 of August, 1947. Israel was born about a year later, on 15 May, 1948, the day the British Mandate expired.
3. Both these countries were established after the World War 2 and adopted the democratic system and remained democratic ever since.
4. Both counties have fought and successfully defeated muslin opposition in several wars. In case it India it was Pakistan and in case of Israel it was Egypt, Jordan & Syria.
5. Both countries have been greatly affected by radical Islamic terrorism.
The last point related to terrorism is particularly significant, keeping in view the current state of affairs in through out the world.
India has always had an engaging foreign policy vis-a-vis, West Asia. India has maintained good relations with all the Gulf States and has successfully made them understand its need to keep Israel on board. The theory that India may lose its Arab buddies by hanging out with Israel has remained unsubstantiated for years.
India’s foreign policy makers have had an independent policy when it comes to balancing relations with the Arab States and Israel and even Iran. There is no doubt that off-late India apparently has moved closer to Israel, however, it has not been done at the cost of its relations with the Arab States.
The leaders in Israel as well as Palestine know India’s position and have never forced India to shun any of its friends. India, on its part, has shown that it can deal with the commitments and aspirations of its Israeli and Palestinian friends at the same time.
MAJOR DIPLOMATIC & STRATIGIC COOPERATIONS:
India and Israel has cooperated on many issues, here are some important once:
1. Israel helped India with satellite imagery during Kargil war when no country even USA refused to share satellite images of Pakistan's infiltration position in Kargil,Dras and Batalik sectors .
2. India abstained on a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution condemning Israel over a UN report into the alleged war crimes committed during the 2014 Gaza conflict - marking a significant change in India's stance.Earlier India used to back this type of resolutions.
3. India came under severe criticism as well as diplomatic pressure from international community after Pokhran-II nuclear tests were conducted in 1998. United Nations Security Council resolution 1172 was also adopted unanimously on 6 June 1998 to condemn the test. Israel was one of the selected few nations, a group that also included France and Russia, that did not condemn India.
NOT ONLY ABOUT WEAPONS:
There is a general perception across the board that when it comes to India and Israel it’s only about war, intelligence and military aid. However, over the years, the two states have taken their cooperation to different levels.
India and Israel cooperate with each other in research and development, technology, education, and off course tourism.
Defense personnel and arms dealers are not the only ones who travel between the two countries, a high (and increasing) number of students, senior academics and researchers from both the countries visit various universities across India and Israel. And this is expected to go even further in the coming years.
Indo Israel partnership was always on strong grounds but have been unpublicized, largely because of India’s fear of upsetting Arab countries and its own large Muslim population.
But PM Modi, whose party BJP has long seen Israel as a natural ally against Islamist militancy, has openly cultivated warmer ties, beginning with a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York last year.
Now, when the two states seem closer than ever before and their leaders are meeting and reciprocating state visits, the way only takes them forward to strengthen the ties.