India - Israel Relationship : Important Topics for UPSC Exams

India - Israel Relationship

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited India during 14 Jan to 19 Jan. It was a 6-day visit. During this PM Netanyahu visited Delhi, Agra, Ahmedabad and Mumbai. It is remarkable in the sense that its 2nd visit by any Israeli PM (Fist was by Ariel Sharon who visited India in 2003). The visit has further importance as it commemorates the completion of 25 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Relationship in the past

  • India formally recognised Israel post-independence in September 1950. India valued its relationship with Israel, but not at the expense of its friendships with Arab and other Muslim states.
    Indian President Pranab Mukherjee visited Israel in 2015 he was the first head of state from India to do so.
    PM Modi’s visit last year to Israel was the first such visit of any Indian PM to Israel.

Prospects for India- Israel Relationship

  • Previous two decades have witnessed a steady strengthening of the India–Israel Relationship, especially in the defence and security areas where the two countries’ shared concerns about Islamic extremism, have offered common ground for cooperation.
  • Government of various states in India have sent agricultural delegations to Israel, and India can learn from Israel’s ability to make its deserts bloom through water management and conservation techniques.
  • Both India and Israel are pledged to further deepening and diversifying the relation in space, science and technology.
    Israeli tourism to India has increased remarkably in the last two decades, Israeli vacationers are frequently visiting places like the Kullu valley and Dharamsala, Goa (whose beaches have become favourite of Israeli tourists).
  • The migration of members of a ‘lost tribe’ from India’s North-East, the Beni Menashe, (identified as a Jewish group), has strengthened the relationship.
    Public opinion polls project high regard in each nation for the other, with India often seen as the world’s most pro-Israeli country after the United States.
    Recent findings of huge oil and gas deposits in the Mediterranean Sea can make Israel a potential exporter and India being a major importer can get the benefits out of it.

MoUs/Agreements signed during the visit of Prime Minister of Israel to India (Jan 2018)

  1. MoU on Cyber Security Cooperation.
  2. MoU on Cooperation in Oil and Gas Sector.
  3. Protocol on Amendments to the Air Transport Agreement.
  4. Agreement on Film-co-production.
  5. MoU on Cooperation in the field of Research in Homeopathic Medicine.
  6. MoU for cooperation in the field of space.
  7. Memorandum of Intent between Invest India and Invest in Israel.
  8. Letter of Intent for cooperation in metal-air batteries.
  9. Letter of Intent for cooperation in concentrated solar thermal technologies.

To promote Innovation and entrepreneurship “International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology” (iCreate), was inaugurated in Ahmedabad, by Indian PM Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu.

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Challenges in India Israel Relationship

  • Delinking Israel and Palestine in India’s foreign policy is not that easy. India has continued political, diplomatic and developmental support to Palestine. Although there is an increased focus on closer ties with Israel, but India must create a balance between traditional support to Palestine and new emerging geopolitical situations.
  • Indian maintains its position that strengthening the relationship with Israel will further strengthen the Palestinian Cause not weaken it. India is firm on its stand over Independent Palestinian state through peaceful and diplomatic means.
  • India abstained on a UNHRC resolution in 2015, and criticized Israel for aerial Bombing on Gaza.
    Increasing defence ties with other defence partner and balancing it vis-à-vis Israel is a cumbersome task.

Way Forward

  • Despite having India voted against Israel at the United Nations, (Dec 2017) (on the issue of making Jerusalem as new capital of Israel), the Indian Government is focussing to set a precedent in its policy towards the Israel-Palestine issue as Israel’s contribution to India’s civil and defence requirement is immense. And a shift in stance in future may be seen.


Q. Do you think India-Israel Relationship is at its best? What are the prospects and challenges in India- Israel Relationship? Analyse. (15 Marks)

Q. Which of the following agreements were not the part of recent India-Israel meet in January 2018?

1. MoU on Cyber Security Cooperation.
2. Agreement on Film-co-production.
3. MoU for cooperation in the field of space.
4. Letter of Intent for cooperation in metal-air batteries.
5. Letter of Intent for cooperation in concentrated solar thermal technologies.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

A. 1&2 Only
B. 2&3 Only
C. 1&3 Only
D. None of the above.

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