Israel- India relations

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A brief chronology

Chidanand Rajghatta | Jul 05 2017 : The Times of India

Israel's founding father David Ben-Gurion assumed office as the country's first Prime Minister a few months after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Although the Mahatma disapproved of the violence that begat Israel, Ben-Gurion admired Gandhi. Inasmuch as there were many snarky rebukes in the newly found about how the Mahatma's non-violent methods would have fared against Nazi Germany , Ben-Gurion made known the esteem he held Gandhi in by keeping a frame photo of the Mahatma at his home, which is now a venerated museum in the Negev desert.

Shailaja Neelakantan | First Israel visas in India were issued from this MP's residence |TIMESOFINDIA.COM | Jul 4, 2017


India recognised Israel in 1950

Full diplomatic ties were established only in 1992

In 1992, Israel didn't have an embassy in New Delhi, it just had a consulate in Mumbai

India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru chose to not have full diplomatic ties established between India and Israel because he didn't want to "offend the sentiments" of Arab countries.

"We would have [recognised Israel] long ago, because Israel is a fact. We refrained because of our desire not to offend the sentiments of our friends in the Arab countries," Nehru said in 1950, when India recognised Israel, according to various accounts of that period.

In 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution stipulating that Israel be carved out of Palestine. Arabs in the region believed this arrangement to be unfair. India concurred with them.

The Indo-Israel Friendship Association's Shetty puts a different spin on Nehru's decision.

"The Congress government was always under pressure from Arab countries and the INDIAN MUSLIMS not to have full diplomatic relations with Israel. Strange!" he writes. (All emphases are Shetty's.)

So much so, that when India established full diplomatic relations with the Middle Eastern country in 1992 - as compared with merely 'recognising' it - the first Israel visas for Indians were issued from Parliamentarian Subramanian Swamy's official residence. An Israel flag was even hoisted on top of his house.

In 1992, Swamy was with the erstwhile Janata Party, and was a member of the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh. But his support for full diplomatic ties with Israel began as early as in 1977.

In 1992 then, after the Narasimha Rao government announced full diplomatic ties, Israel set up a temporary visa office at Swamy's residence with the Israel consul general in Mumbai flying up to Delhi to officiate, writes Jagdish Shetty, member of the Indo-Israel Friendship Association, on TwitLonger.

Israel only had a consulate then, and not in Delhi, but in what was called Bombay.

In fact, Swamy recalled that in 1988 five Delhi-based journalists who wanted visas to visit Israel couldn't get them because they didn't have the funds to travel to Bombay.

Swamy has for long been advocating an India-Israel-US alliance.

In 2014, Swamy even suggested that the US, India, Israel and China come together to fight the Islamic State.

2017: On PM Modi's official Israel visit - the first by an Indian Prime Minister -



December 28, 2017: The Times of India

In July, India signed several agreements with Israel on science, agriculture and technology as part of Narendra Modi's visit to the country.

The agreements included the creation of a $40 billion innovation fund for research in industrial development, and to forge a strategic partnership in water, water conservation and agriculture.

As per the Action Plan 2012-2015, Israel agreed to set up 26 Centres of Excellence — demonstrating an integrated and scientific approach to farming — across nine Indian states. Fifteen such centres have already been commissioned.


Rohit E David | Modi's Israel visit breaks a long-term political taboo in India | Jul 05 2017 : The Times of India (Delhi)

Nicolas Blarel, assistant professor of International Relations at Leiden University and author of `The Evolution of India's Israel Policy', spoke to Rohit E David

The India-Israel relationship has become public and normalised over the last decade.

Ariel Sharon visited India in 2003.

Manmohan Singh barely mentioned Israel during his 10 years.

The main achievement of this visit is just going there.Most of the chief ministers in India have pushed for better ties with Israel.

India has been buying Israeli surveillance drones ­ Heron-1, Searcher, Harpy ­ since the late 1990s. All of these are from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) which has also designed the Heron armed drones. Procurement of armed drones had been under consideration for a decade but there was no political backing under the previous UPA governments. Final clearance happened under Modi's government. India purchased 10 Heron TP armed drones in September 2015 but these still need to be delivered. Delivery could be announced during the Modi visit. While there have been some rumours about possible joint production and technology transfer, it is not clear if this was part of the initial 2015 deal.

Both countries established a joint working group to counter terrorism back in early 2000. There has been a lot of cooperation on surveillance and intelligen ce. India has purchased a lot of materials from Israel to prevent cross border infiltration inclu ding drones. Beyond this technical cooperation, there hasn't been any strong counter terrorism strong counter terrorism effort. Both countries are dealing with two different types of terrorism.

As in 2017

December 28, 2017: The Times of India


Israel is among the top three to four arms suppliers to India, notching up sales worth almost $1 billion every year. The arms acquisitions range from Phalcon AWACS (airborne warning and control systems) and Searcher, Heron and Harop UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to Aerostat and Green Pine radars, Barak anti-missile defence and several types of missiles and laser-guided bombs.

In November 2017, India dispatched a C-130J 'Super Hercules' aircraft along with a 45-member contingent, including Garud commandoes, to Israel to take part in a multilateral 'Blue Flag-17' exercise. The exercise was the first instance of an Indian contingent participating in a military exercise in Israel. This was also the first occasion when the air forces of the two nations came together in a multilateral exercise setting.

In February 2014, India and Israel signed three important agreements — Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, Cooperation in Homeland and Public Security, and Protection of Classified Material. Under Cooperation in Homeland Security, four working groups in the areas of border management, internal security and public safety, police modernization and capacity building for combating crime, crime prevention and cybercrime were established. Israel was one of the main suppliers of weapons to India during the 1999 Kargil War with Pakistan.


[Ramallah]: Until now, when Indian ministers and President Pranab Mukherjee visited this region it was always part of a joint visit to Tel Aviv and Ramallah. The major signal this time is that it is a standalone visit. We have seen a slight move in India's voting pattern towards Palestine in international fora. India has been taking more neutral stands rather than consistently opposing Israeli operations in Gaza.

India's relation with Palestine will not be hampered by [Modi’s] visit. Modi had invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to India earlier this year [2017]. India had reiterated its support to Ramallah for the peace process.

There has been cooperation on agriculture in arid lands, especially drip irrigation, since the early 1990s. Since 1992, drip irrigation projects launched by various Israeli private companies in India have grown from $1million worth to more than $1 billion. Israeli companies represent about 75% of the Indian market.

2018: $500 m missile deal off; 131 Barak sam’s on

Israel's Rafael says India has cancelled order for Spike anti-tank missiles, January 3, 2018: The Times of India

The deal had been worth about $500 million

India has called off an order to buy Spike anti-tank guided missiles from Israel’s state-owned defence contractor Rafael, the company said. The deal was worth about $500 million and its termination came ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to India.

However, India will buy 131 Barak surface-to-air missiles built by Rafael. An Indian Defence Ministry spokesman declined comment on the cancellation.

Local media reported that India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation was developing a domestic anti-tank missile the government was keen to support.

“Rafael regrets the decision and remains committed to cooperating with the Indian Ministry of Defence and to its strategy of continuing to work in India, an important market, as it has for more than two decades, to provide India with the most advanced and innovative systems,” the firm said in a statement.

However, India’s Defence Ministry said separately it had cleared a plan to buy 131 Barak missiles. The 4.6-billion-rupee ($72 million) order follows up an earlier purchase of Barak missiles, meant to protect Navy vessels against sea-skimming missiles and aerial threats.

The two countries have grown closer since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in 2014, widening commercial cooperation beyond their longstanding defence ties.

Mr. Modi became the first sitting Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel last summer, and Mr. Netanyahu will fly to India on Jan. 14.

Rafael, whose CEO will join Mr. Netanyahu on his trip, said the cancellation was made prior to the signing of the final supply contract and despite its compliance with all of India’s wishes.


Trade/ 2017

December 28, 2017: The Times of India

The bilateral trade between the two countries grew from USD 200 million in 1992 to USD 4.16 billion in 2016.

Trade in diamonds constituted almost 54% of the bilateral trade. As many as 40 diamond dealers have opened offices in Israeli Diamond Exchange in Ramat-Gan. Investment

FDI inflows from Israel to India from April 2000 to September 2016 totalled USD 107.6 million, according to figures released by the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, India. Over 300 Israeli investments are present in India in the field of agriculture and high-tech.

Space technology

Surendra Singh | Decade-old space dosti goes on: Nations ink 3 more pacts | Jul 06 2017 : The Times of India (Delhi)

Israel- India cooperation in Space technology, 2008-17

Isro and Israel Aerospace Industries had a decade-long mutual cooperation in satellite development and launches.

On January 21, 2008, Israel had preferred India's trusted PSLV C-10 to launch its reconnaissance satellite, TecSAR, instead of using its own indigenous Shavit rocket. Israel had selected India's reliable launch vehicle because of several reasons. Any launch from Israeli territory must be directed westwards (towards the sea) in order to prevent the launcher's first stages from falling on populated areas or foreign territory . But a westward launch, against the direction of the earth's rotation, seriously restricted the weight of the satellite that the launch vehicle could carry .The second reason was that earlier launches of Israel's Ofeq series of spy satellites from its own soil had put constraints on satellite orbits.Third, Israel wanted to send TecSAR to an orbit (at 450580km altitude) which was not possible from its own rocket. As a result, PSLV carried TecSAR (from west to east direction) from the Sriharikota launchpad unlike all other Israeli surveillance satellites (which were launched towards the west direction) launched from Israel itself.TecSAR was fitted with a large dish-like antenna to transmit and receive radar signals that can penetrate darkness and thickness of clouds. A year after TecSAR's launch, India launched its reconnaissance satellite RISAT-2 on April 20, 2009. The satellite's main sensor, an Xband synthetic aperture radar, was built by Israel Aerospace Industries. The 300kg satellite possessed day-night as well as all-weather monitoring capability .

Israel was also part of Isro's historic mission on February 15 2018 when the agency's PSLV-C-37 launched 104 satellites in one go. Out of the 104 satellites, three of the nano satellites--BGUSat, DIDO-2 and PEASS--belonged to Israel. While BGUS was solely built by Israel, DIDO-2 and PEASS were developed by Israel in collaboration with other European countries.

PM Narendra Modi's visit to Israel in 2017 deepened co operation in space technology between the two countries as the two sides on Wednesday signed three agreements. The first memorandum of understanding was between Isro and Israel Space Agency for cooperation in electric propulsion for small satellites. The second was on cooperation in GEO-LEO optical links and the third pact was on cooperation in atomic clocks (which provide highly precise measurements of time in a satellite).


December 28, 2017: The Times of India


During the PM's visit, cooperation pacts were also signed between their respective space agencies, for work in areas including atomic clocks and electric propulsion for small industries. This year, the government-owned aerospace giant Israel Aircraft Industries signed deals with India totalling over $2.6 billion.


2018: Indian tourist arrivals into Israel on a double-digit growth

Manju V, January 16, 2019: The Times of India

Israel recorded a 21% growth in Indian tourist arrivals with around 70,800 travellers visiting the country from January to December 2018. It a jump from the 58,700 Indian tourists who visited in 2017 and 44,700 in 2016.

It marks a 58% growth from 2016 to 2018, as per the statistics released by Israel ministry of tourism (IMOT). Over 4.12 million tourist entries have been recorded in Israel in the period from January – December 2018, an increase of about 14% compared to last year. This has resulted in $5.8 billion revenue from tourism in 2018 alone with India on the twelfth position for incoming tourism.

In March 2018, Air India introduced direct air operations from New Delhi to Tel Aviv to become the fastest nonstop flight between India and Israel taking a straight route between the two countries. The national carrier then upped its frequency to five flights a week by November, 2018. In addition to this, Israeli carrier El Al introduced a new Boeing 777-200ER aircraft in November last year with increased seat capacity on its Mumbai-Tel Aviv route.

"On the visa front, the country reduced its visa fee to Rs 1,100 from its previous Rs 1,700 charge for Indian citizens along with the initiation of Fast Track visa processing," said a release issued by Israel, ministry of tourism. "The Embassy also opened a Kolkata Israel visa application centre for West Bengal and North Eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura," it added.

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