Deep­en­ing Is­raeli ties

Vayu Aerospace and Defence - - Comentary -

In­dia’s de­ci­sion to en­ter into joint de­vel­op­ment with Is­rael, cleared by the Cab­i­net Com­mit­tee on Se­cu­rity (CCS), for medium range sur­face-to-air mis­siles (MR-SAM) for the In­dian Army is a fur­ther sign of im­prov­ing qual­i­ta­tive ties be­tween the two na­tions since diplo­matic re­la­tions were nor­malised in 1992. The deal is ex­pected to be pegged at around Rs 17,000 crores for five reg­i­ments of the mis­sile con­sist­ing of 200 pieces hav­ing a range of 50-70 km. It seeks joint de­vel­op­ment be­tween In­dia’s De­fence Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion (DRDO) and Is­rael Aero­space In­dus­tries (IAI).

The sys­tem will be man­u­fac­tured in In­dia and is likely to have 80 per cent in­dige­nous con­tent. De­liv­er­ies are set to be­gin by 2023. This sys­tem for the Army’s use will be based on the older pro­duc­tion of Is­raeli Barack-8 mis­sile sys­tem and for the Navy’s use col­lab­o­ra­tively be­tween DRDO and IAI.

To that ex­tent, there is no nov­elty in the de­ci­sion over medi­um­range mis­siles for the Army. In­deed, if Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi does visit Is­rael in the com­ing months, as ap­pears likely, it is not un­think­able that a more am­bi­tious In­dia-Is­rael re­la­tion­ship may be posited. This will be on the lines of the el­e­vat­ing of In­dia-UAE ties after the PM’s trip to Abu Dhabi last year.

Given that In­dia is al­ready Is­rael’s largest arms buyer, and Is­rael is among the top three arms sellers to In­dia — along with the US and Rus­sia — New Delhi’s re­la­tions with the Jewish state have al­ready at­tained some­thing of a strate­gic di­men­sion. In­tel­li­gence-shar­ing is also done due to com­mon con­cerns re­lat­ing to ter­ror­ism, even if on key in­ter­na­tional is­sues, spe­cially those re­lat­ing to West Asia, a gap still re­mains be­tween In­dia’s per­cep­tions and Is­rael’s, although this gap is nar­row­ing some­what un­der Mr Modi, with In­dia ab­stain­ing on UN res­o­lu­tions which crit­i­cise Is­rael. This is the dif­fer­ence with the past.

Two lead­ing con­sid­er­a­tions have guided the bur­geon­ing of In­dia’s ties with Is­rael. One, In­dia’s re­la­tions with Is­rael’s Arab neigh­bours re­mains sound, ex­cept that New Delhi doesn’t al­low one to have a veto over the other. Such a dy­namic, un­der­writ­ten by prac­ti­cal con­sid­er­a­tions, has not so far ad­versely af­fected ei­ther this coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal stance on the Pales­tinian ques­tion or its deep­en­ing all-round ties with Is­rael.

Two, it is also felt in New Delhi that pos­i­tive and ex­pand­ing ties with Is­rael will help New Delhi de­velop a spe­cial con­stituency in the United States, with which suc­ces­sive In­dian gov­ern­ments have sought to build close strate­gic ties, some­times to crit­i­cism within the coun­try. All in all, pos­i­tive bi­lat­eral re­la­tions with Is­rael are use­ful to both sides. Specif­i­cally on de­fence ac­qui­si­tions, the net should be ex­panded to take in the key Euro­pean pow­ers as well. From The Asian Age

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