Free Sample essay on Indo-Israel Relations



Relations between the State of Israel and Republic of India did not exist until 1992, especially because India was a strong supporter of Palestinian independence. Soon after its independence in 1947, India proposed to the Special Committee of the United Nations on Palestine (UNSCOP) the creation of a federal Palestine with autonomous status for the Jewish population. However, the Kashmiri insurrection in 1989, the collapse of the USSR, the military escalation with Pakistan, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent, etc were the factors that together resulted in the establishment of relations between India and Israel in 1992.

Establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel also was a step in strengthening relationships with the United States. Today, Israel has surpassed Russia as the largest arms provider to India. India has evolved itself to a position where it is viewed by both the Israelis and the Palestinians as a trustworthy intermediary.

If we delve through the pages of History, Jews from Israel reached Indian shores as early as 562 BCE. Unlike many parts of the world, Jews have lived in India without any instances of Anti-Semitism, except persecution by the Portuguese during their colonial rule in India. During the Medieval period, Jews traded freely in Kashmir, the Punjab, and throughout the Mughal Empire. In the modern period, in spite of his good relationship with Jews, Mahatma Gandhi had opposed the creation of Israel as he was against the creation of countries based on religion.

Although India did not subscribe to the Partitioning of Palestine plan of 1947 and voted against Israel's admission in the United Nations in 1949, it did recognize Israel as a nation in 1950, chiefly because Prime

Minister Jawaharlal Nehru supported its creation. However, the opposition to the establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel during the 1960s and 1970s arose from the Congress Party's desire to appease the Muslims in India as well as to continue the foreign policies of the Nehru and Gandhi era. The changed geo-political situation due to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of Islamic terrorism in both countries generated a solid strategic alliance between the official Cold i War rivals.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, India and Israel have increased cooperation in military and intelligence ventures to the extent f that Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has even launched a; military satellite for Israel. In 1997, Israel's President Ezer Weizman/ became the first head of the Jewish state to visit India. During his visit, the first weapons deal between the two nations was negotiated, which involved the purchase of Barak-1 vertically-launched surface-to-air (SAM) missiles from Israel. Subsequently, when India conducted Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998, Israel was one of the select few nations, a group that also included France and Russia, which did not condemn the tests.

In terms of naval cooperation, Israel sees great strategic value in an alliance with the Indian Navy. It also sees the potential of establishing a logistical infrastructure in the Indian Ocean with the cooperation of the Indian Navy. In 2000, Israeli submarines reportedly conducted test launches of cruise missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads in the waters of the Indian Ocean, off the Sri Lanka coast.

In terms of air force cooperation, India purchased 32 Searcher Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Electronic Support Measure sensors and an Air Combat Manoeuvering Instrumentation simulator system from Israel in 1996. Since then Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) has serviced several large contracts with the Indian Air Force including the upgrading of the IAF's Russian-made MiG-21 ground attack aircraft. There have also been further sales of unmanned aerial vehicles as well as laser-guided bombs.

In November 2008, Indian military officials visited Israel to discuss joint weapons development projects, additional sales of Israeli equipment to the Indian military, and counter-terrorism strategies. The new round of talks was seen as a significant expansion in the Indian-Israeli strategic partnership. This resulted in Israel becoming the largest arms supplier to India in 2008. Subsequently in December 2009, Gabi Ashkenazi the general of Israel Defense Forces made a historic state visit to India to cement the defense ties between the two countries. He pledged every help to India in fighting terrorism.

In terms of economic cooperation, bilateral trade between the two countries grew to $4.1 billion by 2009 from a mere $200 million in 2001. This excludes defense trade but includes manufacturing, satellite launch, agriculture, and diamond industries. In 2008, PBEL, a joint venture of two Israeli real estate firms and an Indian developer, announced an investment of $1 billion in real estate projects in India to build 10 million square feet of world-class residential and business space in three cities. A formal two-way free trade agreement (FTA) that would give Indian industries access to the Israeli high technology sector and Israel access to Indian domestic market is expected to be signed soon.

It will be a step ahead of the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) that a Joint Study Group (JSG) set up by the two countries had recommended to improve trade ties. It is estimated that bilateral trade would exceed $12 billion in 5 years with focus on areas such as software, communication, homeland security, science and medicine, bio and agro-technologies, water, etc.

In science and technology sector, India is building closer ties with Israel in the areas of nanotechnology, information technology, water technology and biotechnology. The 1998 Indo-Israel Joint Symposium on Human Genome was held in Jerusalem. Subsequently, another Indo- Israei status seminar on Human Genome Research was organized in India in December 2000. India and Israel have initiated several joint research projects with scientists from both countries visiting the laboratories of their collaborators.

Short-term exchange visits have also been organized. The Indo-Israel Joint Committee of scientists was constituted with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and India as co-chairmen with representatives from various research organizations in India and the Ministry of Information Technology as members.

In 2003, the two countries proposed to double the investment under the ongoing science and technology collaboration to $1 million with $0.5 million from each country in the next biennial period starting October 2004. In 2004, the Ministry of Science and Technology in India signed a MoU with Israel for jointly funding industrial R&D projects. In May 2005, India and Israel pledged to set up a fund to encourage investment and joint industrial ventures. The five priority areas for enhanced collaboration are nanotechnology, biotechnology, water management, alternative energy, and space and aeronautics.

The same year India purchased 50 Israeli drones for $220 million. In 2008, Israel and India finalised a three-year plan to introduce crops such as olives, dates and grapes to be introduced and cultivated in the states of Rajasthan and Maharashtra, to create an agricultural market that meets Western demand for products like olive oil. The symbolic project is expected to boost yield and stave off famine.

In a significant move, Israel chose India to launch its satellites. The latest Israeli spy satellite, TecSAR, was launched by India on 22 January 2008. The Indian PSLV launch-vehicle was chosen instead of its own home grown Shavit rocket due to the cost and maturity factors. Subsequently in 2009, India launched the RISAT-2 satellite which is based on the technology employed in Israel's TecSAR.