Covert to overt In­dia-Is­rael re­la­tions

Close co­op­er­a­tion be­tween two coun­tries is likely to catal­yse growth in many sec­tors in­clud­ing de­fence, agri­cul­ture and en­vi­ron­ment con­ser­va­tion.

Alive - - Contents - by PK Va­sudeva

It is not only sur­pris­ing but also shock­ing to note that some of In­dia’s Op­po­si­tion lead­ers protested against Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s visit to Is­rael in July for vote-bank pol­i­tics. They are per­haps not aware that in the wake of the In­dia-China 1962 war, Is­rael helped the In­dian in­fantry with the most needed 81 mm and 120 mm mor­tars and Pack How­itzer Ar­tillery Guns, with am­mu­ni­tion. In­dia re­cip­ro­cated this good ges­ture by send­ing spares for Is­raeli Mys­tere and Ouragon air­craft and AMX-13 tanks in 1967.

In­dia and Is­rael forged a close mil­i­tary and se­cu­rity re­la­tion­ship dur­ing the 1999 Kargil war with Tel Aviv sup­ply­ing top of the line Searcher Mark II UAVs to re­con­nais­sance the Pak­istani in­tru­sion area in Drass, Kakser and Bata­lik sec­tors. Later, Is­raeli com­pa­nies armed In­dian multi-role fight­ers like Mi­rage-2000 with Light­en­ing pods to paint the Pak­istani tar­gets for a laser guided bomb at­tacks.

It also pro­vided Barack sur­face to air mis­siles to pro­tect In­dian air­craft car­rier Vi­raat.The re­la­tion­ship deep­ened af­ter Is­rael qui­etly landed three C-130 J Her­cules load worth of much needed am­mu­ni­tion and mis­siles in the first week of June 2002 as In­dia was all set to an­swer for 14 May 2002 mas­sacre of 10 women and 8 chil­dren at Kaluchak army camp in Jammu by Pak­istani ter­ror­ists.

Ear­lier, the de­fence arms and equip­ment used to be sup­plied by Is­rael covertly but now with Modi’s visit it has emerged to be overt sup­plies. For­mer Chief of the Army Staff Gen VP Ma­lik in a re­cent ar­ti­cle on “Good Jew” has elab­o­rately ex-

plained some of the in­puts from Is­rael.

While wel­com­ing Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi to Tel Aviv, his Is­raeli coun­ter­part, Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu, said his coun­try had awaited the visit for “sev­enty years”. Since the birth of Is­rael in 1948, Is­raeli lead­ers had al­ways sought full diplo­matic ties with our coun­try de­spite In­dia op­posed its ad­mis­sion to the UN.

Once the Narasimha Rao gov­ern­ment es­tab­lished full diplo­matic ties in 1992, Is­rael pushed for full ac­knowl­edge­ment of bi­lat­eral re­la­tions on the in­ter­na­tional stage. As a re­sult, the sig­nif­i­cance of Modi’s visit to Is­rael, as the first In­dian Prime Min­is­ter there, was of great his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance.

The agree­ments signed dur­ing the visit on de­fence and na­tional se­cu­rity, wa­ter and agri­cul­ture, space and sci­ence and cy­ber se­cu­rity and tech­nol­ogy are path break­ing given that Is­rael tends to limit co­op­er­a­tion in these ar­eas to only a few coun­tries.

How­ever, the best friend­ships are judged not just by bi­lat­eral bon­homie, but also by the abil­ity to dis­cuss un­com­fort­able is­sues. With Modi’s visit In­dia has, for all pur­poses, de-hy­phen­ated its ties with Is­rael and Pales­tine, some­thing Is­rael has al­ways cher­ished.

In a clear re­pu­di­a­tion of the In­dian prac­tice of keep­ing Pales­tinian lead­ers promi­nently in the loop, Modi made a point not to visit the Oc­cu­pied Ter­ri­to­ries.

His­tor­i­cal back­ground

In­dia’s po­si­tion on the es­tab­lish­ment of the State of Is­rael was af­fected by many fac­tors, in­clud­ing In­dia’s own par­ti­tion on re­li­gious lines, and In­dia’s re­la­tion­ship with other na­tions. Ma­hatma Gandhi be­lieved the Jews had a good case and a prior claim for Is­rael, but op­posed the cre­ation of Is­rael on re­li­gious or man­dated terms.

In­dia voted against the Par­ti­tion­ing of Pales­tine plan of 1947 and voted against Is­rael’s ad­mis­sion to the United Na­tions in 1949. The Hindu na­tion­al­ist leader Vinayak Damodar Savarkar sup­ported the cre­ation of Is­rael on both moral and po­lit­i­cal grounds, and con­demned In­dia’s vote at the UN against Is­rael.

RSS leader Mad­hav Sadashiv Gol­walkar ad­mired Jewish na­tion­al­ism and be­lieved Pales­tine was the nat­u­ral ter­ri­tory of the Jewish peo­ple, es­sen­tial to their as­pi­ra­tion for na­tion­hood.

On 17 Septem­ber 1950, In­dia of­fi­cially recog­nised the State of Is­rael. Fol­low­ing In­dia’s recog­ni­tion of Is­rael, Prime Min­is­ter Jawa­har­lal Nehru stated, “we would have [recog­nised Is­rael] long ago, be­cause Is­rael is a fact. We re­frained be­cause of our de­sire not to of­fend the sen­ti­ments of our friends in the Arab coun­tries.”

In­dia’s op­po­si­tion to of­fi­cial diplo­matic re­la­tions with Is­rael stemmed from both do­mes­tic and for­eign con­sid­er­a­tions. Do­mes­ti­cally, politi­cians in In­dia feared los­ing the Mus­lim vote if re­la­tions were nor­malised with Is­rael. Ad­di­tion­ally, In­dia did not want to jeop­ar­dise the large num­ber of its cit­i­zens work­ing in Arab States of the Per­sian Gulf, who were help­ing In­dia main­tain its for­eign-ex­change re­serves.

In­dia’s do­mes­tic need for en­ergy was an­other rea­son for the lack of nor­mal­i­sa­tion of ties with Is­rael, in terms of safe­guard­ing the flow of oil from Arab na­tions and In­dia’s de­sire to counter Pak­istan’s in­flu­ence with the Arab states.

Is­rael pro­vided In­dia with cru­cial in­for­ma­tion dur­ing its mul­ti­ple wars. Af­ter decades of non-aligned and pro-Arab pol­icy, In­dia for­mally es­tab­lished re­la­tions with Is­rael in Jan­uary 1992 and ties be­tween the two na­tions have flour­ished since, pri­mar­ily due to com­mon strate­gic in­ter­ests and se­cu­rity threats.

The for­ma­tion of Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Is­lamic Co­op­er­a­tion (OIC), which al­legedly ne­glected the sen­ti­ments of In­dian Mus­lims, and the block­ing of In­dia by Pak­istan from join­ing the OIC are con­sid­ered to be the causes of this diplo­matic shift.

Re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries re­ceived a boost af­ter the elec­tion of the Naren­dra Modi gov­ern­ment in 2014. Fol­low­ing a state visit to In­dia in

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.