Can India, Israel relationship go beyond the ‘arms’ distance?

Narendra Modi will make history when he arrives in Israel early Tuesday, becoming the first Indian Prime Minister to do so.  The three-day visit, aimed at commemorating 25 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries, is also historic because Modi will not be visiting either Palestine or an Arab State immediately before or after this trip.

“This marks a radical shift from the earlier visits by senior Indian leaders to Israel, who would always make it a point to visit Ramallah in Palestine immediately afterwards to reassure them about India’s motives and support for their cause,” said a senior foreign ministry official who requested anonymity.

“It was this concern over not just alienating Muslims in India, but also the Arab world –where a lot of Indians work, and where most of our oil and natural gas comes from— which led to the delay in establishing a diplomatic relationship. Despite having formally recognised Israel in 1950, full diplomatic relations were launched only 1992, under (then PM) Narasimha Rao. But he too did so after convincing the PLO of India’s commitment to the Palestinian cause.”

India and Israel cooperate in a wide range of areas including agriculture and water conservation, science and technology, trade and investment. Both sides also view each other as victims of Islamist terror, and the largest area of cooperation is defence.
Read full text in New Indian Express