It seems like India is facing issues because of its relationship with Israel. In past few weeks, we have seen India’s push to tilt its paradigm of the mutual beneficiary. Consecutive efforts of India, to re-position itself in the equation; is creating ripples everywhere. Interestingly; all of this happens before Israeli PM Netanyahu’s visit to India, starting from January 14.

Recently, India among other 127 nations voted against US recognition of Jerusalem in the UN. Indeed, it may drift mutual relation between the two countries to some unknown terrain. This move comes after a meeting between Minister of State M. J. Akbar and diplomats from Middle-East in Delhi on December 11. Perhaps India saw another opportunity to counterbalance geopolitical equation, therefore; Indian officials had sought to allay their concerns saying that New Delhi was not going to take any position dictated by a “third country” and reiterated its long-standing position on the issue. ref.1

It is important to note that world has seen India’s subtle shift from its established paradigm when India abstained from a vote against Israel at the UN Human Rights Council, Geneva in July 2015. Israeli officials didn’t deny that the government had lodged a protest with India about its vote but indicated that India’s stand had to be seen in the ‘larger context’ of its growing alignment with Israel on other issues. ref.2

This larger context is important. It hints at how much Israel values its relationship with India and is willing to take it further anyway. It says that Israel understands the need to look at upcoming dollar bills rather than age-old issues. Actually, Israel understands that India is already under pressure after it took consecutive pro-israel stances in recent times. It’ll be gripping to see how long Israel could bear these back-and-forth ninja techniques of India during tough times. Let’s hope that things aren’t turning south for Modi-Netanyahu bonhomie if that happens then, indeed; Winter is Coming.

Icicles hanging (AP /Karl-Josef Hildenbrand /DPA /Jovana Gec for The Times of Israel)

In another move, India folded talks on the acquisition of anti-tank Spike missiles worth $500 million from Rafael before signing the contract. This was unexpected for the industrialist, diplomats thus shocked them and raised many eyebrows. At the time, David Keynan, vice chairman of the ‘Federation of Indo-Israel Chambers of Commerce’; warned that this decision could have negative repercussions not only on defense contracts between the two countries but also throughout the market. Indian official justified this move by saying that this move is to safeguard and promote the domestic military’s research and development agency DRDO. ref.3  However, the situation still remained dubious.

Hours before the cancellation was confirmed, the Indian Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that it would approve a purchase of 131 Barak surface-to-air missiles from Rafael for $70 million. India also rejected an offer from US-based Raytheon-Lockheed Martin for the sale of Javelin anti-tank guided missiles. ref.4 This level of nitpicking shows macro-management of India’s global power balancing strategy.

At the end, it seems like India is on the spree to counterbalance its, recently outspoken; Israel-favoring intentions in-front of geopolitical decision makers. Some may say that these policy adjustments are decisive measures to curb domestic friction between the Modi government and the Indian Muslim community.

The reason behind this juxtaposition is that Modi government is perhaps looking forward to attaining more stronghold position instead of looking ‘cajoled’ at the negotiation table during the upcoming visit of Netanyahu. Hope everything goes well.

This article is second in a series on Israel-India relations.
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