It would be correct for us to say that India and Israel are lovers for life. The two countries enjoy an extensive economic, military, and strategic relationship.
The relationship between India and Israel was not always cordial. Although both the nations gained their independence from the British Empire, India and Israel later moved further apart in different directions. India became a leader in the Non-Aligned Movement that maintained close relations with the Arab world and the Soviet Union; while Israel formed close ties with United States and Western Europe.
India’s large growing Muslim population was another major obstacle in maintaining close relationship with Israel because Indian National Congress party which ruled India for quite a few decade believed that close relations with Israel might upset Indian Muslims and even friends of Arab.
Gradually, things changed after 1980’s when India opened their arms for Israel, in fact great deal of bilateral activities happened between the two countries in preceding years. India extended de-jure recognition to Israel in 1950 and allowed Israel to maintain a consulate in Mumbai to facilitate the voluntary immigration of thousands of Indian Jews to Israel. Thousands of Indians travelled to Israel for special courses, agricultural technology and even community development. Israel played a major role in India’s victory against the Pakistan during the Kargil War in 1999 by providing weapons to India. Israel also provided humanitarian relief to India.
In November 2002, the head of Israel space research program, Colonel Avi Hareven, and the head of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Dr. K. Kasturiangan, signed an agreement on space cooperation between the two countries.
Subsequently, both the countries established diplomatic ties. After numerous diplomatic efforts, both the countries became closer. In fact India has become one of the largest trading partners of Israel.
Imperceptibly, things became better when Narendra Modi of Bharatiya Janata Party, came into power in May 2014. The Bharatiya Janata Party is a Hindu right-wing party. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu personally congratulated Modi for his victory in elections. Finally, Modi and Netanyahu met in New York City on the sideline of the UN General Assembly. This was the first meeting between the Prime Ministers of the two countries in over a decade. On the occasion of the Hanukkah festival, Indian PM Modi greeted his Israeli counterpart in Hebrew Language on Twitter, while Israeli PM Netanyahu replied in Hindi.
India and Israel both faced many challenges internationally, but both the countries came out as shining gold. The Indo-Israeli love affair is undoubtedly on the upswing and no longer swept under the carpet. Some might even regard them engaged, while others consider them already married.