India – Israel Relationship: A walk on the sword

The 6-day visit by Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is coming to an end. Narendra Modi set aside protocol and received Israel Prime Minister personally at the airport. They repeatedly used words like ‘historic’, ‘path-breaking’ and ‘marriage made in heaven’ in the context of India-Israel relations. All these indicate that it is of more than normal significance and has a long-term design implanted in it.


He and his Indian counterpart signed a series of agreements for cooperation in energy, the film industry, aviation, cyber and investment.

The nine agreements signed on Monday, Jan. 15, in New Delhi include beginning work on a free trade pact as well as an initial approval for Indian energy companies to explore for oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

The past

In the past, intelligence agencies of both the countries, RAW and Mossad, used to collaborate and deflate insinuations by other nations. It was RAW-Mossad collaboration that informed Gandhi’s successor as prime minister, Morarji Desai, in 1977 about Pakistan’s nuclear ambitions.

India-Israel relations in the 1980s and 1990s were kept informal. It was because India had to condemn Israel’s aggression in Palestine as well as its cooperation in defense and intelligence sharing.

As home minister, L K Advani was the first Indian cabinet minister to land in Israel in 2000. In 2014, the Israel-Hamas conflict was increasing. Indian foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, stated that, “there is absolutely no change in India’s policy towards Palestine, which is that we fully support the Palestinian cause while maintaining good relations with Israel.”

India’s on Arabs and Palestine

The UAE and Saudi Arabia are among the top five trading partners of India. The member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) collectively constitute the largest trading block. The trade volume exceeds $150 billion. The Arab states provide 50 percent of Indian crude oil and 85 percent of its natural gas requirement.

India became the first non-Arab state to recognize Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1974. Later, in 1988, India was again one of the first countries to recognize the State of Palestine. As the time passed, India kept supporting the Palestine cause. In April 2015, India supported the Bandung Declaration on Palestine at Asian African Commemorative Conference. This was followed by India’s support on installation of Palestine flag at UN premises.


No doubt the visit was significant. The relationship is highly sensitive as Indian Muslims might interpret this as an India-Israel-US triangle aimed against Islam and Islamic countries. So, India must be extremely cautious and be politically neutral. This would consolidate its stand on Palestine cause, give positive signals to Arabs while reaping the fruits of the bilateral relationship with Israel.

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