Why is Israel becoming so much friendly with India?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj deliver joint statements during their meeting in Jerusalem January 18, 2016. REUTERS/Yair Sagi/Yedioth Ahronoth/Pool - RTX22VSS

Israel and India have developed close relations. In realpolitik there is no such a thing as too friendly. That being said the reason for good India Israel relations is the ability of India and Israel to identify with each other on various levels.

Defense

This one is obvious. India is Israel’s biggest arms market, with an average of $1 billion of defense sales per year. Israel has become one of India’s most important weapons suppliers, after Russia and the US.

This means that – India benefits from Israel weapons and technology and Israel benefits from the Indian defence market. A mutually beneficial relation and hence strong.

Agriculture and Desalination-

The agriculture capabilities of Israel are astounding, to say the least. They have managed to grow crops in every piece of available land. Their desalination plants are top-notch. For a monsoon dependent, water scarce nation like India, cooperation with Israel in agriculture and water-treatment would go a long way.

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In 2008, the two nations started a $50 million shared agriculture fund, focusing on dairy, farming technology and micro-irrigation. This constituted the Agriculture Cooperation Agreement. In 2011, India and Israel signed an agreement to foster cooperation on urban water systems, which came after more than a decade of joint research, development and shared investment in the countries’ respective water technologies.

While India benefits from Israel technology, Israel benefits from the business it provides. It would also be a very efficient PR strategy, considering a vast majority of Indians are still ignorant of Israel. Again, a mutually beneficial relation.

Culture

As others have already mentioned, India has been the only country where Jews have not been persecuted. The Portuguese persecution doesn’t count. It may not be readily apparent in India but for Israeli Jews, who have been subjected to pogroms and oppression, it is a great news, something unheard of in Jewish history.

This helps in promoting trust and cooperation which is extremely important for friendship.

Counter terrorism

This is yet another binding thread in the Indo-Israeli relationship. This one should be obvious. Both Israel and India are subject to the horrors of terrorism and it makes sense to be allies and aid each other and share knowledge and fight it as one.

Trade

Israel was India’s 38th-largest trading partner in 2016-17. In the coming years, it is expected to increase. Smooth relations with a start-up intensive vibrant economy is beneficial for India. On the Israeli side the huge untapped potential market is a God sent gift.

Political environment

I have dealt with this in detail here. Israel-India-Arab relations. The lack of opposition from Palestine or the major Arab powers is another important reason. The current political situation is just right for the two allies to come out in the open about their relationship. There have been no protests from the Indian Muslim population as well. The world has accepted the relationship for what it is.

Related, India presents a vast economic opportunity for Israeli companies: PM Narendra Modi

Others

Both India and Israel offer excellent tourism opportunities for each other. Israeli technology is state-of-the-art and the numerous pacts provide a facelift to existing Indian ones and inject new vigor. These are the reasons Israel and India have become fast friends – Mutual cooperation and trust due to mutually beneficial relations.

India’s friendship with Israel is time-tasted and verified.

  1. Israel airlifted the weapons for India. In 1971, Israel helped India even when the two countries had not established diplomatic ties. During Kargil war, the help came again and this time the support made India give a befitting reply to Pakistan.
  2. Israel’s Mossad gives training to India’s RAW. The Indian Prime Minister was protected jointly last year by RAW and Mossad (along with MI5) when visiting a third country, Great Britain.
  3. Israel has sold radar and surveillance systems as well as electronic components for military aircraft and and has helped India defense itself through training in counterterrorism methods. In November 2011, India’s elit Cobra Commando unit bought more than 1,000 units of the Israeli X-95 assualt rifle to use in counterinsurgency operation. Also in 2011, India placed orders for four advanced Israeli Phalcon AWACS planes (airborne warning and control systems) which are capable of detecting hostile aircraft, cruise missiles and other incoming aerial threat far before ground-based radars.

Israel always wanted a very good relation with India and as we all know, A friend in a need a friend indeed.

Credit, Harish S Yoda and Shubham Kumar Gupta.

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