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Security-driven ties with Israel: India needs to review its policy

by G. Parthasarathy

ON November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly passed a Partition Plan, with a two-thirds majority, dividing the British Mandate of Palestine into two states — Jewish and Muslim. The resolution was accepted by the Jewish leadership and rejected by the Arabs. A newly independent India, torn apart by the massacres that followed its communal partition, predictably voted against the partition of Palestine on communal lines. Just over two years later, responding to international realities, India recognised Israel. But the seeds of partition of Palestine were sown half a century earlier, when the First Zionist Congress held in Switzerland in 1897, called for the establishment of Jewish sovereignty in the “Land of the Pure”, or Palestine.

Arab intellectuals responded two decades later, demanding the independence from the Ottoman Empire of all Arab provinces, including Palestine. Refusing to recognise the State of Israel, invading Arab forces were humiliatingly defeated in wars with the Jewish state in 1948, 1967 and 1973. The Egyptians made peace with Israel in 1979 and have since maintained a normal, but sometimes uneasy relationship with it. Jordan soon followed suit.

Ever since then a number of Arab countries commenced overt or covert ties with the Jewish state. Some, like Kuwait and Oman, shut their doors to the free entry of Palestinians. Moreover, Arab-Israeli differences now lie largely subsumed in Shia-Sunni tensions within countries like Iraq and Bahrain. Historical Arab-Persian rivalries between Shia-dominated Iran on the one hand and its Sunni Gulf Arab neighbours led by Saudi Arabia on the other also tend to dominate Arab attention today, even more than the Palestinian issue.

An Israeli delegation led by Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinians led by Yasser Arafat strove in 1993 to find a peaceful solution to their differences through what became known as the Oslo peace process. A crucial milestone in this process was Arafat’s letter of recognition of Israel’s right to exist. Since then the “Mid-East Quartet” comprising the US, the EU, Russia and the UN has taken centrestage in promoting direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Neither India nor China nor any other Asian country has a role in this effort.

Driven by its domestic political compulsions, the dynamics of Cold War politics and its role in the nonaligned movement, India hesitated in moving towards establishing diplomatic ties with Israel, even though ties at covert levels continued, with Israel providing India with urgently needed military supplies, during and after the 1965 India-Pakistan conflict. But with the end of the Cold war and the Arabs and Israelis themselves talking directly to each other, India moved, albeit belatedly, to establish diplomatic ties with Israel, in 1992. What has emerged since then has been a burgeoning security relationship between the two countries.

For Israel, this relationship has attained greater importance after Turkey turned hostile to it, in recent years. Israel, however, has normal and friendly relations with China, Japan and a number of East Asian countries. It also has friendly ties with India’s neighbours like Sri Lanka, Nepal and Myanmar.

The India-Israeli relationship has quietly been security driven. While many aspects of the relationship, particularly in the spheres of defence, aerospace and counter-insurgency, have been kept under wraps, they are now coming into public focus in studies by Indian and Israeli scholars. Over the past decade, Israel has emerged as the second largest supplier of sophisticated weapon systems to India. Former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam played a crucial role in promoting this effort, after his visit to Israel in 1996, as Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister. This has now led to a vastly expanding collaboration in areas like crucial air defence systems and missiles, upgrading of the aging Soviet-era equipment, including tanks and fighter aircraft, and cooperation in areas of research and development, in highly advanced night vision devices, sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles, which have a crucial role in dealing with cross-border terrorism. Sadly, our former Ambassador to Israel Raminder Singh Jassal, who played a key role in shaping the strategic directions of relations with Israel, died recently in Turkey.

As India seeks industrial development in areas of high technology and the involvement of its private sector in fields like defence and aerospace, Israel has emerged as an important partner. The Tatas have become the first Indian company to seek manufacturing and R&D facilities through collaboration with Israel in areas like radars, electronic warfare and homeland security systems. Cooperation in aerospace with Israel commenced with an agreement reached in 2003 that India would launch a satellite developed by Tel Aviv University.

The Israeli satellite “Polaris” was launched by ISRO in 2008. Shortly thereafter India launched an Israeli-made imaging satellite RISAT 2. India has also leveraged its ties with Israel to secure Congressional understanding in the US on several critical issues. While American concerns about the rise of China have secured India exclusive access in Asia to advanced early warning systems like the Israeli PHALCON, there are areas of concern where Israeli transfers to China are finding their way to Pakistan, for fighter aircraft like the Chinese J 10, which was designed and developed by Israel.

Under pressure from is communist allies, Dr Manmohan Singh’s UPA-I government avoided visits by Cabinet ministers to Israel. The CPM’s objections were strange, given the fact that two of its top leaders, Mr Jyoti Basu and Mr Somnath Chatterjee, had paid an extended visit to Israel in 2000 and sought Israeli cooperation in agriculture and industry. It has been fairly common for chief ministers of Indian states, ranging from Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh to Haryana and Punjab, to visit Israel for collaboration projects in agriculture, horticulture, water management and sprinkler systems.

Reflecting a welcome change in what was a strange policy, driven by the “compulsions of coalition politics”, the External Affairs Minister, Mr S.M. Krishna, is now scheduled to visit Israel shortly. This does not signal a change in India’s principled position that Israel should avoid building settlements in territories occupied by it and work for a solution that leads to the emergence of a viable Palestinian state, while guaranteeing the security of all states in the region. Arab states tend to take India for granted by routinely supporting gratuitous anti-India resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir in the Organisation of Islamic Conference. They should be made to realise that friendship is a two-way street. India has taken an overly benign view of gross human rights violations and sectarian tensions in some Arab countries. The possibility of reviewing this policy should always be kept open.


Anonymous said…
India has become Zioconned to its core. What a will live to regret your choices for sure.
Anonymous said…
To Anon at 5.49:-
How are we becoming a zionist country by aligning with the only nation in the middle east that supports our cause in Kashmir. Look at all the other GCC countries who regularly bash India up in OIC conferences and regularly whip anti-India sentiments. Also Israel is the real democracy in the whole region. Don't throw stones at others while living in glass house
Anonymous said…
Israhell is not a Democracy, it's an apartheid racist regime and an illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, hell bent on ethnic cleansing local populations between the two rivers..... India is a Democracy, albeit a Zioconned one of late for sure. Kashmir is a disputed land issue and a border issue, which does not require of India to become wholly Zioconned in order to resolve it. It seems that you are the one living in a glass house....just like your buddies the Zios.
To Anonymous(10:50 PM)
If Israel is not a democracy, then how come Arabs can vote in elections and serve in the Knesset? Not only that they can also make anti-Israeli speeches in the Knesset. Can this be reciprocated in any of the Arab countries. As for the so called ethnic cleansing, how do you explain that the growth rate is highest among the Palestinians?
Anonymous said…
A theocracy, ( The Jewish State ) as they like to call it and insist upon it is never a Democracy. Israhell has on numerous occasions thrown Arab MPs in jail for no apparent reasons, or contrived excuses, or expelled them... Israhell imprisons Palestinian MPs in Gaza by the dozens, and discrimination against Arabs is widespread within Israhell.
Palestinian demography is a form of willful resistance to occupation, and a very good one, which will make the Zios go mad. It seems that Zioconned India is looking to imitate the despicable Zios and learn their dirty tricks. Shame!
Raj said…
Arabs and particularly Muslim Islamist's have a paranoid hatred for Israel and Jews in particular. This hatred has been bred and sold wholesale in widespread propaganda campaigns and international organizations.

Most Indians don't even know how Israelis are, who they are and what their side of the story is but due to decades of propaganda - Indians by and large take a dim view of Israel.

The Islamists in India perpetuate this belief.

While it is true that Palestinian's right are being curtailed and most Jewish settlers who came to Palestine were not native to the region it is wholly untrue to claim that "Palestinians" are some indigenous people who were displaced ala the Native Americans or the Aborigines of Australia. There is NO ethnic cleansing nor is their any campaign by Israel to "cleanse" anything.
Israel recognizes the right of Palestinians to exist, they recognize the territories controlled by Palestinians but most of the misery that Palestinians face today is self-inflicted due to their continued attempts to find a military solution to their grievances. The idea that physical force and violence can achieve their anything that they want is the CAUSE of most of Palestinians problems.

The day groups like Hamas and Hezbullah are shunned by Palestinians and drive out of the territories that is the day Palestinians will find peace.

The reality is that today Israel exists and no matter what any mullah or terrorist leader claims there is nothing that can destroy Israel or remove the Jews from Israel. The Palestinians need to recognition this reality and build a solution from this reality.
Anonymous said…
Spoken like a true and hardened Zioconned ignorant fool. In other words a real brainwashed Zion-fed falsehoods, innuendos and half-truths... Dig a little further and you will find the light, just may be? You are confusing apples with oranges. Hizbullah, are not Palestinians for starters..., and just to reassure you and your Zio-Friends, what was taken by force, will be returned by force, come hell or high water, even if it takes centuries to achieve...
Anonymous said…

Oil and nothing else matters when having a relationship with any Gulf countries. And India has to pay for the Oil, it is not as if it comes for free. The same money is directly or indirectly used for terror funding. I am ok with funding of any kind till the time it is not against me, this is the American way of thinking and executing, India should follow suit.

Israel is the only country which supports the Kashmir cause and has been giving us technology which west wasn't ready to part with till recently. So Israel and India are inseparable allies, even if that is without choice. Be so strong in your defence like Israel that even a group of countries near you combined also cannot attack you, or even think of, this is the learning India wants to avoid, thanks to pure Congress babus and weak leadership. Infact weak leadership is not the problem, the ideal problem lies in our democracy, which is more of a minority vote bank driven or corrupt. The first step to success shall be if Indian defence forces are freed of the politicos, which control them and hence do not let them reach a level where we can match up China etc.

The writer god knows is in what state of mind, cause to support palestine is to support Pakistani Kashmir. GOd knows where his Indian spirit is gone. Hope if not anybody in Congress political circle but atleast the writer understands before writing such blogs.
Anonymous said…
Whatever anyone says I just have following points to make

1. No one in the Middle east has guts to touch ISREAL.Remeber what they did to so powerful Egypt(at that time),Syria and others within first few hours of Six day war

2. If Isreal is not a democracy (as many Isreal Haters says).. Same hold true for all the so called "Pure Muslim states"

3. Most of Isreal bashers wet their bed with Nightmares of MOSSAD. They are best in business in cleaning parasites(jehadis).

4. Even on personal lever they are the most literate people .. what cann you say bout the muslims (latest study says only 2% muslims reach the level of higher education)
Anonymous said…
Long Live India -Israel Friendship.

Crush Bloody Muslims
Anonymous said…
Israel can't be a democracy until it occupies the West Bank and Gaza. ITs very simple.

The ARabs (Christians and Muslims) in the occupied territories DO NOT have the right to vote, heck they don't even have the right to move about freely in their own lands.

On the other hand, lets not forget that 70-80% of our energy resources comes from the ARab countries. Our biggest trading bloc in the world is the Gulf ARab countries with $120Billion in trade and $30 Billion in remitrances.

Our total ARab world trade is to the order of $240Billion almost.

And every country including ARab countries support Indian position on Kashmir which is to solve the problem bilaterally.

Israel is the most isolated country in the world and their support doesn't mean anything in the international arena or the UN.
Anonymous said…
To Anon @12.19
We had and still have the guts to crush IsraHell and its cowardly IDF thugs in 2006...[ surreptitiously ignoring that crucial war does not negate its tectonic shift...] and we will do it again and again until it is extinct...We will crush this imperial ZIONIST project come hell or high water, even if it takes decades...
Long Live Justice in this tormented world. People need freedom, self determination, not illegal occupations and land theft, like the crooked Mafiosi ZIOS.....
Anonymous said…
To all the above people who fight each other, the important thing to realize is that it is true what Israel has done with Palestine is not correct for illegally occupying their lands. I know this hurts the religious sentiments of a particular community in our country. But people have to realize that country is more important than religion and country's interest has to be given priority because we all live in this country.

But at the same time we cannot forget the following facts:-

1. India has supported the Palestine cause for a long time and still supports the Palestine cause and consider the illegal occupation of Israel wrong. But not even a single Arab country has supported India in the Kashmir issue and they all support Pakistan which is wrong because Kashmir is a part of India.

2. Please have the knowledge to understand that only Israel has the latest weapons technology which the west has and they have readily helped India to modernize our Defense forces. This was a big help for our technology craving country.

3. When India conducted Atomic tests, only Israel and France did not condemn it and even in fact supported it. Not a small thing at that time when the whole world was against us.

4. Mossad shares intelligence information with our RAW which helps to fight terrorism and many other illegal activities.

5. With the help of Israel, India was able to make a satellite for military spy purposes: RISAT which has really helped us to check our neighbors.

6. During our crucial wars with our neighbors only Israel was ready to give us the much required weapons.

I conclude by saying that while we all know what Israel is doing is wrong with Palestine at the same time India cannot afford to loose a good friend like Israel since they did not do us any harm where as only supported us time and time again which we should not forget.
giaonhanquocte said…
Thanks for sharing, nice post! Post really provice useful information!

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