Israel is one of the 3 poles of West Asian region. The other two being Saudi Arabia and Iran
- 1948 –
o Israel was founded
o India had voted against formation of Israel by partitioning Palestine at UN
▪ Partition was based on religious lines. Israel was to become a country of Jews.
India was fresh from its wounds of the partition in 1947 on religious lines.
▪ India had a considerably higher population of Muslims. So leaders did not want to hurt the sentiments of this section of the population.
o India recognized the existence of Israel.
o But no diplomatic ties were established between India and Israel till 1991 ( End of Cold War)
o A Consulate of Israel was opened in Bombay
o But at crucial times Israel helped India
▪ Wars of 1962 (China) & 1965 (Pakistan)
- Israel provided mortars and small arms.
▪ 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War
- Crucial weapons and Israeli instructors played an important role in the victory
o A shift from estrangement to engagement
o Formal establishment of diplomatic ties
o Reasons for shift in policy
▪ On Kashmir , West Asian countries backed Pakistan
▪ Arab countries like Jordan and Egypt established formal ties with Israel
▪ Disintegration of USSR and India’s need to diversify its defence needs
o Narendra Modi became the first ever Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel. PM Modi did not visit Palestine during the trip, breaking from convention
o Shows “dehyphenation” of India’s relations with Palestine and Israel i.e
▪ India’s relations with Israel and Palestine are
- independent of each other
- totally separate, and should be weighed on their own merits.
o India-Israel ties elevated to strategic partnership
- 2018 UNGA Resolution
o India voted against the recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel
▪ Jerusalem is a holy site with religious significance for Islam and Judaism.
▪ Declaring it as capital of Israel , would deny the Muslim community of access to Jerusalem
- 2021 UNHRC Resolution
o In the backdrop of latest conflict between Israel and Palestine ,a resolution was adopted
UNHRC to set up a permanent commission to probe human rights violations in
Gaza, West Bank and Palestine.
o India abstained from voting
Dimensions of India – Israel Partnership
▪ One of the strongest pillars of the bilateral relationship. Nearly 41 % of Israel defence exports are to India,
▪ Israel has been a source of advanced military technology to India.
▪ India buys more than a $1 billion of equipment every year and that over 40% of Israel’s
arms exports in 2012-16 were to India.
▪ SIPRI Report for 2013-17: Israel accounted for 11% of India’s arms imports in 2013-17.
▪ Israel has been cooperating with India groups in the areas of border management, internal security and public safety, police modernization and capacity building for combating crime, crime prevention and cyber crime
▪ Joint Venture in defence production as a part of Make In India
▪ Some Defence equipments
i. IAI Searcher unmanned aerial vehicles
ii. Barak 1 surface-to-air (SAM) missiles
iii. Phalcon airborne warning and control systems (AWACS)
▪ India – Israel share concern about rising terrorism across the West Asian region , considering the fact that both have been victims of terror attacks
▪ On Kashmir issue ( broadly Pakistan ) , Israel has stood by India , either by providing crucial intelligence inputs or weapons during wars
3. Agriculture and Water Conservation
▪ To tackle problems of Indian agriculture like erratic rainfall , poor agricultural productivity, poor water use efficiency.
▪ Cooperation in water conservation, waste-water treatment and its reuse for
agriculture, desalination, water utility reforms, and the cleaning of the Ganges and other rivers using advanced water technologies
▪ Israel’s expertise in drip irrigation will help India meet its target of doubling farmer’s income.
▪ India has benefited from Israeli expertise and technologies in horticulture mechanization, protected cultivation, orchard and canopy management, nursery management, micro-irrigation and post-harvest management.
4. Innovation and Entrepreneurship
▪ India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund (I4F) setup
▪ For affordable technological innovations in focus areas of mutual interest such as water, agriculture, energy and digital technologies.
▪ to encourage joint projects that convert “know-how” into “show-how”.
5. Para Diplomacy
▪ Indian states have been real agents driving the diversification and consolidation of the
▪ Ex ) Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra
▪ From US$ 200 million in 1992 (comprising primarily trade in diamonds), bilateral
▪ merchandise trade stood at US$ 5.65 billion (excluding defense) in 2018-19, with the
balance of trade being in India’s favor by US$ 1.8 billion.
▪ Trade in diamonds constitutes close to 40% of bilateral trade. India is Israel’s third largest
trade partner in Asia and seventh largest globally. In recent years, the bilateral trade has diversified into several sectors such as pharmaceuticals, agriculture, IT and telecom, and homeland security.
▪ There are approximately 85,000 Jews of Indian-origin in Israel (with at least one Indian parent), who are all Israeli passport holders.
▪ The main waves of immigration into Israel from India took place in the fifties and sixties.
▪ The majority is from Maharashtra (Bene Israelis) and relatively smaller numbers from Kerala (Cochini Jews) and Kolkata (Baghdadi Jews). In recent years some Indian Jews from North Eastern states of India (Bnei Menashe) have been immigrating to Israel.
▪ While the older generation still maintains an Indian lifestyle and their cultural links with
India, the younger generation is increasingly assimilated into Israeli society.
8. Space Collaboration:
▪ In 2002, India and Israel signed a cooperative agreement promoting space collaboration. India has successfully launched TecSAR and RISAT-2 radar imaging satellites of Israel from PSLV of ISRO.
Areas of Concern
1. Bilateral Trade and investment still below potential
▪ Trade has stagnated around $5 billion
▪ Mainly confined to diamonds and defence.
▪ Free Trade Agreement talks has stagnated.
2. Emerging fissures in the West Asian region
▪ With Israel and Saudi Arabia coming close with an aim to stop the rise of Iran, it will be tough for India to balance its relations with the three main poles of the West Asian region
3. Human Rights violation by Israel against Palestine has been difficult for India to turn a blind eye
4. Connectivity between two countries still poor
▪ Which has led to limited People to People ties
5. Israel’s close ties with China
▪ Has ensured that the strategic element prevalent earlier has reduced.
▪ China is attracted to Israel’s technology sector, and Israel welcomes China’s investments and potential as a research collaborator.
Former Israeli PM Netanyahu gave the relationship the form of an equation:
IT X IT= I 2 T2 or Indian Talent X Israeli Technology=India Israel Ties (for) Tomorrow.
India and Israel are friends, a partnership made for the 21st century between two vibrant democracies and energetic peoples.