India – Israel Relations

Why you think it’s important:  recent visit of Mr. Modi as the first Indian Prime Minister in Israel.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi touched down in Tel Aviv, saying he was fortunate to make what he called a “ground-breaking” visit as the first Indian Prime Minister in Israel.
• India had voted against the partition of Palestine in 1947 and also against its induction as a United Nations member, finally recognizing the Jewish nation in 1950.
• It wasn’t until 1992 that full diplomatic ties were established, however, by the Narasimha Rao government.


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Two sets of copper plates have been found in Kerala, which have been presented to Israeli PM by Mr.Modi. These plates believed to have been inscribed in 9th of 10th century and cherished relics for Cochin Jews regarded as charter describing grant of hereditary royal privileges by king Cheraman Perumal to jewish leader and documented history of Jewish trade with India. 

Why did it take 70 years ?

India recognized Israel in 1950, but its principled support for Palestinian self-determination and a practical desire to remain on good terms with the Arab world prevented India from establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel until 1992. The end of the Cold War and the changing landscape of Middle East politics had provided India powerful incentives to change course.

After getting Independence, the relationships of india with many countries were more political . We were relying for our energy requirements on middle East nations. So any significant step towards Israel could have jeopardized our relation with them.

So it was politics which was dominating our policy towards Israel.


NOW with the advent of liberalisation and 21st century both the nations have moved beyond political interests and are talking about economic development, governance, security.

Highlights of the visit 

  • Establishment of full fledged diplomatic relations one to one both the nations has unleashed the enormous potential that exists between both the Nations to tap and use it for mutual development
  • Both have become vocal and open in sharing their common concerns and combine efforts to contain forces which potentially threaten the interests of both the countries including terrorism , cyber security, defence mechanisms
  • Both countries have enormous technology. They want to tap it , which termed into three words :: TEMPERAMENT , TALENT , TECHNOLOGY .
  • Israeli PM Netanyahu called India – Israel partnership a force for “ Good against Bad”
  • Both the countries have tasked special committees to implement the 7 agreements by next year.
  • Fund for R & D called “ I 4 F “ or “ Israel – India Industrial Innovation Fund will see both Govt.contribute $20 million to help research scholars manufacture their innovations easily.
  • Indian PM also announced to setting up Indian cultural centre in Israel as a part of efforts to enhance People – to – People contacts between the two . One such centre is also operating in Cairo ( Egypt ).
  • Modi also announced to give OCI cards to Israeli citizens of Indian origin, even if they have served in Israeli military (  according to Indian Govt.rules – those who serve in military which is mandatory in Israel can not get OCI )
  • Indian PM also promised Direct flight connecting Delhi & Tel Aviv.

MoUs and agreements 

  1. MoU for setting up of India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund (I4F):

It was signed between the Department of Science & Technology, India and National Technological Innovation Authority, Israel

  1. MoU regarding cooperation in Electric Propulsion for Small Satellites:

It was signed between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Israel Space Agency (ISA).

  1. MoU on National Campaign for Water Conservation in India: It was signed between the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and the Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources of the State of Israel.
  2. MoU regarding cooperation in GEO-LEO Optical Link: It was signed between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Israel Space Agency (ISA).
  3.  Plan of Cooperation regarding cooperation in Atomic Clocks was signed between the ISRO and the ISA.
  4.  MoU on State Water Utility Reform in India: It was signed between UP Jal Nigam, Government of Uttar Pradesh and the Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources of the State of Israel.
  5. Three Year Work Program in Agriculture 2018-2020

 Israel and water conservation

Israel is master in some of the front line technology in water conservation, defence, agriculture which India needs very much .

In joint statements both the leaders have confirmed their relations up to the strategic level in agriculture , water conservation and out of 7 agreements , 3 are related to water conservation and agriculture. They have planned to established. Agriculture development fund for 3 years and in that they will also established Center of excellence which will help our farmers to harness innovative ideas in production and preservation.

(Mr. Modi also coined the term “ I for I “  or India for Israel “ and “ I with I “ or India with Israel as a response to Mr. Netanyahu’s formula of “ Indian talent and Israel technology equals India – Israel ties for tomorrow)

Israel will help India to sustain and improve agriculture especially in recycling of waste water , desalination and cleaning rivers which are very important for India.

What are Israel’s Interests ??

Israel has been aspired to be a natural ally of India.


  • IAI is developing the Barak 8 missile for the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force which is capable of protecting sea vessels and ground facilities from aircraft and cruise missiles.
  • In 2016, the Indian government approved the purchase of two more Phalcon AWACS. India and Israel are also planning to hold their joint military exercise soon.
  • India is Israel’s tenth-largest trade partner and import source, and seventh-largest export source. India’s major exports to Israel include precious stones and metals, organic chemicals, electronic equipment, plastics, vehicles, machinery, engines, pumps, clothing and textiles, and medical and technical equipment
  • Israel proposed starting negotiations on a free trade agreement with India, and in 2010 India accepted that proposal. The agreement is set to focus on many key economic sectors, including information technology, biotechnology, water management, pharmaceuticals, and agriculture.
  • India and Israel have signed a cooperative agreement promoting space collaboration between both nations. The two countries have also signed an agreement outlining the deployment of TAUVEX, an Israeli space telescope array, on India’s GSAT-4, a planned navigation and communication satellite. The GSAT-4 itself failed to launch, due to the failure of its cryogenic engine.
  • 2008, TecSAR was successfully inserted into orbit by India’s PSLV. One of TecSAR’s primary functions is to monitor Iran’s military activities.
  • 2009, India successfully launched RISAT-2, a synthetic aperture radar imaging satellite. The launch of the RISAT-2 satellite aimed to provide India with greater earth observation power, which would improve disaster management,
  • 2008, Israel and India finalised an agricultural plan introducing crops native to the Middle East and Mediterranean to India, with a particular focus on olives. Subsequently, around 112,000 olive trees were planted in the desert of Rajasthan.
  • Israel has offered to help the Indian government with a project to clean the Ganga. Israeli offers Israel’s expertise in water management to battle water scarcity.
  • Israel proved to be a ally by providing support and military aid during war time.

Why India is equally important for Israel 

Both the countries shared historical , cultural , economic and political transformation similarities .

Israel surrounded by hostile nations so its time to. Counter hostality with humility

Both economically transforming nations would take the issue of Governance to new heights and converging issues could make new landmark transformations in competitive global world.

At this time Israel need not only India but also China so it is trying to balance the relations between the two. Because Israel wants to avoid any blockade against it (as many European countries ) israel need big markets for its growing economy.

Israel’s role in the Middle East and Why Israel is so significant?

“where there is strength , there is peace at least”

Israelis have gifted the land they had fought for years over for having a safe Jewish country after the Holocaust. Palestinians inhabited the land before Israelis and Jewish refugees flooded in. So the territorial disputes remain intact. The twin goals of Israel’s foreign policy have always been peace and security two concepts that are closely interrelated.

The Middle East is a mixture of peoples, religions, languages and cultures. Although the Muslim-Arab culture is predominant, it has not produced any homogeneity. The region is permanently in ferment, and frequently unrest flares up in violence, terror, insurrection, civil strife and open prolonged warfare.

Being a superpower, Israel plays a huge role in the stability of Middle East by just existing. The only reason many Arab countries talk to each other and have an organisation (Arab League) is that the only common ground they have is their hate for Israel. So Israel has a very passive role in the stability of the Middle East. Israel takes a larger humanitarian role and expands the medical help to wounded civilians from Syria. It has also played a pivotal role in handling refugee camps from the war-torn Syria and Gaza.

Moreover, the technological and industrial advancements of Israel can have a ripple effect around the middle- east region; especially the exceptional water conservation techniques adapted by Israel can have the holistic advantage to the arid and barren lands of Arab countries.


It was noted that Prime Minister Modi did not visit Palestine during the trip, breaking from convention. The Indian media described the move as the “de-hyphenation” of India’s relations with the Israel and Palestine.


India PM said that this is only economic , developmental and national interests of both the nations which are laying the foundation of this strong tie.

Our PM has visited many Arab countries also , so visit to Israel is part of natural diplomatic process.

We have been in favour of two nation theory and there is no fundamental change in our moral support .

India hosted palestinian PR Mahmoud Abbas in May , 2017 , reassured India’s traditional support for an Independent nation at peace with Israel.

PR Mukherjee during his visit to Palestine , had been vocal about the India’s pro – Palestinian leanings. On his brief 3 days visit in 2015 he stated that India’s solidarity towards Palestinian people and its principle support to Palestinian cause has been rooted in India’s freedom struggle.


India still has the understanding of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people. However, the country needs to be cautious about how its external relations are perceived in other countries, particularly at this very challenging point. Great power brings great responsibility — not only towards the world around us, but also towards potential inheritors of India’s current power and status. 


Further Reading

Probable Questions:

1. Critically analyse the recent developments in India and Israel relations and how India has strengthened strategic partnership with Israel?
2. Describe Israel’s role in enhancing water conservation practices in Indian agriculture?
3. The major highlight of India-Israel relations are the series of defence and military deals- Comment.

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