AIR spotlight summary on “India-Israel Bilateral Talks”.
- The visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to India is a significant visit, which is the first major foreign visit of the year. There were Nine MoUs signed in areas of significance like cyber security, agriculture, water management, oil and natural gas etc.
- Since 1992 when the full diplomatic relations between India and Israel was established, there was some hesitation from the Indian establishments that India should not be seen to be very close to Israel. But that hesitation is no longer there in the present government. The quantum leap in the relationship took place in July 2017 when Prime Minster Narendra Modi visited Israel and the kind of agreements signed and the publicity it got. The present visit is the continuation of that bonhomie.
- Earlier it used to be that primary cooperation between India and Israel was in defence and security. Now agriculture has become the main stay of the relationship, with the centres for excellence being setup, along with water management and drip irrigation issues. The widening of the relationship is different to the strategic partnership India has with other countries where it is more of defence and security. Cooperation in agriculture can be a value addition to our farmers. Olive cultivation was started in Rajasthan with the help of Israeli irrigation technology. With less water Israel has been able to cultivate more, if these technologies are widely implemented in India it can make a big difference in the agriculture sector.
- Israel has always celebrated and honoured the Indian contribution to liberate Haifa. They have a great sense of history. The Teen Murti Chowk and the Teen Murti Marg in central New Delhi was renamed as the ‘Teen Murti Haifa Chowk’ after the Israeli city of Haifa.
- India is perhaps the only country in the world where the Jews have never been persecuted. So they have the strong sense of affection and belongingness towards India.
- Israelis are very innovative; there are about 12 Nobel Laureates in Israel which has a total population of about 8 million which is half the population of National Capital Region(NCR). They have about 500 start-ups in the automotive sector and the partnership can be effective to India. Israel does not hesitate in technology transfer where as US and European companies are very reluctant for technology transfer and want to sell or have 100% ownership.
- India voted against the US decisionto recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in the UN. India has a close relation with Iran with whom Israel has a problem. The two leaders have shown statesmanship and the foreign policy establishments have shown lot of maturity because India has major differences in policy with respect to Iran and Palestine issue. India’s support for the two state solutions has been consistent and we have stood by our decision. This is a success of India’s foreign policy establishments that we are able to convey our position and convince Israel that Palestine issue is only one aspect of the relationship and the relationship is much wider.
Counter Terrorism and Cyber Security
- In counter terrorism, intelligence gathering and retaliation, Israel has an exceptional good record and India need to learn from Israel how they have been able to mount surgical strikes all over. At Entebbe Airport in Uganda they had rescued the high jacked Indian plane. There are aspects of operational details about dealing with terrorist situations where we need to learn from Israel. In 2008 Mumbai terror attack, we took 3 days to neutralise the terrorist attack, whereas Israelis would have neutralised them within hours. So there is lot of scope to understand their technology and how to deal when there is a terrorist attack.
- Both India and Israel are vulnerable to cyber attack. Cyber security would be very important concern of all governments. We need more cooperation from those countries that are also vulnerable so that they have high levels of defence like Israel and South Korea.