India is a developing country, and India needs to maintain relationships with other countries. The Ministry of External Affairs of India(MEA) or Foreign Ministry is majorly responsible for foreign relations with other countries. You must be aware of who the Minister of External Affairs is? Subrahmanyam Jaishankar has been the Minister of External Affairs since 30th May 2019. Vijay Keshav Gokhale is the current Foreign Secretary of India.
The President appoints the ministers on the advice of the Prime Minister. With the world’s fifth largest military expenditure, second largest armed force, fifth largest economy and third largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity, India has a growing international influence and prominent voice in global affairs. One should be aware of the bilateral relations between countries. Bilateral trade agreements (BTAs) and regional trade agreements (RTAs) are an important social phenomenon in the world today.
The primary difference between both the agreements is bilateral agreement is done between two contracting parties while regional trade is made between two or more contracting parties. Both agreements aim to reinforce the trade relations between the members. Talking about India-Israel relations is the bilateral relationship between the Republic of India and the State of Israel. The two countries have extensive economic, military, and strategic relationships. Israel is represented by an embassy in New Delhi, a consulate in Mumbai, and Bengaluru in India. In Israel, India’s embassy is situated n Tel Aviv.
You must be aware of the difference between embassy and consulate. The embassy helps preserve and protect the relationship between the host country and the county represented by a particular embassy office. An embassy is larger, while a consulate is a smaller version of an embassy generally located in the larger tourist cities of a country. The embassy is always situated in the capital of the country.
This relationship was set up in 1992, it has excelled in all the fields like economic, military, agricultural, and political levels. Over the last 25 years, bilateral trade between the two countries has increased from $200 million to more than $4 billion (excluding defence). India is the largest military buyer of Israeli military equipment, and Israel is the second-largest defence supplier to India after Russia. India won the Kargil War against Pakistan in 1999, and Israel supplied the weapons used.
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India and Israel Relationship
Talking about the relationship between India and Israel, it can be divided into four stages.
This was the building phase of this relationship. Jews arrived from Israel first to Kerala n 526BC. This was the time of the Indus valley civilization of India and the Babylonian culture of the Middle East. At that time, King Solomon (10th century BCE) ruled over Israel. One can also read about ancient trade and cultural communication between India and Israel in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea documentation.
Talking about Indus Valley Civilization, it was named after the Indus river system. The alluvial planes were identified in this civilization. It flourished in the basins of the Indus River, which flows through the length of Pakistan along with a system of perennial rivers. This civilization was also referred to as Harappan Civilization. Harappa was the first of its sites to be excavated early in the 20th century. Indians went to Baveru(Babylonia, in Israel) and sold peacocks for public display. This set up the trade communication between India and Palestine (also known as Israel). The trade relations can be traced back to the 1000 BCE of both countries.
The phase where India became diplomatic with Israel. India did not support the Partitioning of Palestine plan of 1947 and voted against Israel’s admission to United Nations in 1949. India even didn’t recognize Israel as a nation till 1950. The reason behind this was due to political and economic factors. There were many reasons, such as
- Trade: As we know, India and the Arab world have been trading partners for centuries. In ancient times, Arabs set up a large market in India for coffee, tea, spices, and other goods. In 1948, these goods were extended to engineering goods, gems, Jewellery, ready-made garments, chemicals, and petrol. So it was tough for India to make relations with other countries as it was economically committed to the Arab world.
- India Pro Arab Policy: After partition, some 40 million Muslims remained in India instead of crossing the border of Islamic Pakistan. For the sake of a vote bank of Muslims, India pursued a pro-Arab/Palestinian policy to appeal to their west-Asian Muslim brothers in Israel.
At that time, India consists of a large Muslim community but in the minority. So to save the vote bank, India didn’t support or deny recognizing Israel. At the same time, Madhav Sadashiv, leader of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, supported Jewish nationalism and believed that Israel was the natural territory of the Jewish people.
Recognized But Informally
India recognized relations with Israel but informally. On 17th September 1950, India officially recognized the state of Israel. Indian prime minister stated, “We would have recognized Israel a long year ago, but we refrained because of our desire not to offend the sentiments of our friends in the Arab countries.” India was already economically committed to the Arab world, and they didn’t want to offend the Arab countries. In 1953, Israel was permitted to open a consulate in Mumbai. Consulate, as mentioned above, is the small form of the embassy. Being diplomatic in Israel relations, the Nehru govt didn’t permit Israel to open an embassy in New Delhi. Govt. thought this would lead to dissatisfaction in the relations with the Arab world.
The relationship was still formal until the early 1990s. The main reason was the fear of losing the vote bank of Muslims; that’s why the relations were normalized with Israel. India was diplomatic in this case. India didn’t want to face losing many citizens working in the Arab States of the Persian Gulf who were helping India maintain its foreign-exchange reserves.
India was also getting benefits in terms of oil flow from Arab nations. During this era, the dominant party in India was Indian National Congress, being diplomatic because of the above-stated reasons the normalized relation was maintained with Israel.
After so much of these informal relations, India finally formally established with Israel in 1992. An embassy was opened in Tel Aviv in January 1992. The OIC (Organization of Islamic Corporation) was formed. This organization was founded in 1969. The organization states that it is the collective voice of the Muslim world. Both countries managed healthy relations. Both countries needed security and defence, and India has become one of Israel’s largest trading partners. Trade and cooperation between the countries now center primarily on security related deals.
In the early 2000s, India planned on allocating tens of billions of dollars to defense industries. India is the number one export target of Israel’s defence industries. Talking about figures, in 1992 total trade was amounted up to $200 million, while in 2016 it reached up to $4.13 billion. Israel exported $1.15 billion worth of goods to India in 2016. The relations went stronger when Modi’s govt came into work. Between Modi’s election in May 2014 and November 2014, you won’t believe Israel served $662 million worth of Israel’s weapons and defense items to India. This count was more than the count of last served weapons by Israel in three years.
Indian Aerospace Industries
Another milestone developed was Israel Aerospace Industries, which successfully tested a jointly Indian-Israel Barak 8 air and naval defense missile system on November 10, 2014. This was conducted by Israel’s Defense Ministry and India’s Defence Research and development organization. This test was successful. This was an important milestone in the relationship between India and Israel. It also developed a surface-to-air missile system for the Indian army in 2015. Indian officials purchased 321 launchers and 8356 missiles from the Israeli military in 2015. Israel made unmanned drones were used for surveillance and military purposes by India, and India ordered 16 drones during 2015.
IAI announced in April 2017 that a deal had been signed with India’s Army and Navy to supply them with an advanced air defense system worth upward of $2 billion. The Indian Navy launched a new, Israeli-developed Integrated Under Water Harbor Defense and Surveillance system (IUHDSS) in February 2017. The main aim of this system was to check the security of above and below water vehicles operated by the Indian Navy in the Mumbai Naval Harbor. Talking about the latest visit of the Prime minister, some agreements had been signed during that visit of Israel to India (2018)
- MoU on Cyber Security Cooperation
- MoU on Cooperation in Oil and Gas Sector
- Protocol on Amendments to the Air Transport Agreement
- Agreement on Film co-production
- MoU on cooperation in the field of Research in Homeopathic Medicine
- MoU for Cooperation in the field of space
- Memorandum of Intent between Invest India and Invest in Israel
- Letter of Intent for cooperation in metal-air batteries.
- Letter of Intent for cooperation in concentrated solar thermal technologies.
Despite the difficulties, the relationship is strengthened by regular visits. Both countries are making development in their political sector, economic, and defence sectors. Recently India and Israel have signed two agreements in water resources management and agriculture. There are many benefits of strengthening tie-up with Israel, but India has to be careful with the diplomacy plotted by other nations. This is all about India and Israel relationship.