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Table of Contents:

How Could the India-China Standoff Impact Israel?:  Seth J. Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, June 18, 2020

The Three C’s of India- Israel Relations: Connectivity, Community & Commerce:  Swapneel Biswas, Middle East Monitor, July 6, 2020

Despite Modi-Netanyahu Bonhomie, India Improves Ties with Palestine:  Aditi Bhaduri, Money Control, July 11, 2020

Why Russia Remains India’s Trusted Ally Despite Moscow’s Bonhomie with China: Seema Guha, Outlook, July 13, 2020

How Could the India-China Standoff Impact Israel?
Seth J. Frantzman
Jerusalem Post, June 18, 2020A standoff between India and China over a disputed border region has seen at least 20 Indian soldiers killed. The dispute has potential regional and global implications because China and India are among the most populated countries on Earth, and they have nuclear weapons.Even without an escalation, the issue is important because it brings into stark contrast the rising number of border disputes that threaten to spill over into conflict.This matters to Israel. Israel has thrived economically and especially in the realm of defense technology in the last years. Israel has a strategic partnership with India, and Israel has been pressured in recent years by the US to reduce its warming relations with China.

The Israeli tendency to expand relations with India and China was brought about by the tectonic shifts that took place after the Cold War. Twenty-five years of relations with China were celebrated in 2017. Full relations with India were also established in 1992. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to Israel in 2017. China’s Vice President Wang Qishan came to Israel in 2018.

These relations are now part of the shifting global realities where economic power is rapidly shifting to Asia, and Western countries are becoming more chaotic and unstable. Israel’s key alliance is with the US, but Israel’s key relationships are also in Asia, and they will continue to be.

This is partly a historical reality as well. Israel’s relations with Middle Eastern states and Europe are often burdened by history. Some European countries see it as their duty to oppose Israel’s policies as part of an approach where they feel that having carried out the Holocaust, they now have to decide what is best for the Jewish people and therefore the Jewish state. This burden of history always looms in the background, sometimes for good or bad.

Israel’s relations with the Middle East are tied up in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many Muslim countries refuse to recognize Israel. Even those far away, such as Malaysia, have an obsession with Israel related solely to religious issues, not strategic reality.

Iran’s obsessive and constant threats to destroy Israel are applied to almost no other state. When Iran speaks with India or Russia, it speaks rationally, ignoring issues such as Kashmir or Syria. But when it speaks about Israel, it has a zealousness that cannot be avoided so long as the current regime is in power.

This is the reality of the neighborhood Israel is in, and although there are positive shifts in the Gulf and elsewhere, there is no rapid change. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

The Three C’s of India- Israel Relations: Connectivity, Community & Commerce
Swapneel Biswas
Middle East Monitor, July 6, 2020

At present, Israel is probably one of the closest allies to India in the international sphere, not just in matters of bilateral trade but political ties as well. Under, current Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, Indo-Israel relations have reached newer heights, and the respective Prime Ministers of both the countries, seem to have struck an excellent rapport with each other. Modi becoming the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the country in 2017 along with Benjamin Netanyahu, making a state visit to India are evidence of the improving ties between the two nations. However, India’s approach to Indo-Israel relations is different from the Middle Eastern Nations. While, India has maintained a neutral stand in the Middle East and primarily focused on foreign trade, but relations with Israel have been turbulent in the past, owing to certain political factors. This article will discuss the history of India’s relations with Israel and the 3 C’s of Indo-Israel relations: Connectivity, Community and Commerce.

History of Indo-Israel relations

The existence of relations between India can be found in ancient texts like the Old Testament, Periplus of the Erythraean Sea and even in the Hebrew Bible. It is believed that trade relations between India and Israel existed as early as 1000 BCE and once can find mentions of peacock, monkeys, and animal trade between the two regions in ancient times.

The British Mandate was established in Palestine, then considered to be the home for the Jewish Community, in 1917 and ended in 1928, with the formation of Israel. India also gained independence from British rule around the same time. However, diplomatic relations were not established between the two nations until 1992, owing to a number of reasons. Post Independence, India attempted to establish cordial ties with the Arab nations, to ensure that the country’s Muslim population was not angered and also to counter the influence of Pakistan in the South Asian region. Moreover, India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru’s ties with Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, also discouraged India to establish relations with the Middle East. Thirdly, India, being close to the Soviet Union, whereas, Israel being a US ally, also affected relations between the two countries. From the very beginning, India was a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause, and by 1991, a peaceful negotiation process was established involving Israel, Palestine and other Arab nations, and tensions between Israel and Egypt also eased. Moreover, India breaking free from the Soviet Bloc combined with the aforementioned factors, paved way for India to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, under P.V. Narsimha Rao. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

Despite Modi-Netanyahu Bonhomie, India Improves Ties with Palestine
Aditi Bhaduri
Money Control, July 11, 2020

July 4 marked the third anniversary of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Israel visit — the first ever visit by an Indian Prime Minister to the Jewish state. This was but to be expected. Both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Modi himself had assiduously cultivated ties with Israel. To be fair, they were not the only ones. Both the Congress and Left parties had also cultivated ties with Israel. Modi’s visit was, therefore, no surprise. What was surprising was the time it took for him to actually make that trip — in the third year of his prime ministership.

What is less known or discussed is how adroitly India under Modi has balanced ties with the Palestinians simultaneously, even actually increasing support, proving false the dire predictions that proximity with Israel would come at the cost of India’s decades’ long support and ties with the Palestinians.

Modi first met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2015 on the side lines of the UNGA in New York. Bilateral ties have since rapidly moved ahead.

Take for instance the June 24 virtual Ministerial Pledging Conference for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Participating in it Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said “As a steadfast supporter of the Palestinian cause, India deeply appreciates the generous support and untiring work of host countries, donors and UNRWA to ensure millions of our Palestinian brothers and sisters displaced from their homeland a life of dignity”.

This is significant as Israel has been wanting to dismantle the UNRWA and in support of this, in 2018, the US — the agency’s largest donor — cut off funding for it. India is one of the countries that stepped in to try and fill in the shortfall, by increasing its contribution to the agency from $1.25 million to $5 million.

Under Modi 1.0 and Modi 2.0, there have been many firsts in the India-Palestine bilateral. Delinking its ties with the Palestine from the larger Israel-Palestine conflict, India has since been pursuing its ties with both Israel and Palestine on parallel tracks.

In February 2018, Modi became the first Prime Minister to visit Ramallah; in 2015, Pranab Mukherjee became the first President to do so, on his three-nation trip which also included Jordan and Israel.

The first ever Foreign Office Consultations between India and Palestine were held in Ramallah in May 2015, while the first ever Joint Commission Meeting between India and Palestine was held in Ramallah in November 2016.

Scholarships, financial, academic, and humanitarian aid for Palestinians simultaneously increased under Modi. More recently India has sent medical and humanitarian supplies to Palestine for battling COVID-19.
In 2015 India pledged $5 million in aid for Gaza’s reconstruction after the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, and the same year supported the installation of the Palestinian flag at UN’s premises. In fact, Modi hosted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Delhi before travelling to Israel in 2017. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

Why Russia Remains India’s Trusted Ally Despite Moscow’s Bonhomie with China
Seema Guha

Outlook, July 13, 2020

Amidst the political mud-slinging, military- and diplomatic-level talks, and highly-armed, tense posture on the ground, the India-China military stand-off in Ladakh has led to a scrutiny of India’s foreign policy. There are demands for a fresh look at the changing geopolitical environment, with China aggressively claiming its hegemony across several Asian fronts “for its place in the sun”. Is it time to veer closer to the US, considering Russia, one of India’s traditional allies, is locked in a strategic embrace with China? What, indeed, in this markedly changed context, is the future of India-Russia ties?

Usually, Russia has been India’s bulwark against a superpower’s meddling or an opportunistic attack by a neighbour during a crisis—the Indo-Soviet treaty of August 1971 enabled India to avoid both later that year. Through the years, the US would typically keep up a frosty silence, while Russia made loud proclamations of support. In a transformed world order, the reverse happened in 2020.

Thus, a robust reaction emanated from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who dubbed the Chinese moves in Ladakh as “rogue action” and squarely blamed Beijing for aggressive behaviour. In glaring contrast, Russia has been cautious, calling both countries to resolve the crisis using “dedicated specific mechanisms and tools….” Ordinary Indians are delighted with Pompeo’s tough talk; Russia’s sober, anodyne statement did not resonate with the public.

In reality, Moscow has to walk a tightrope in its ties with India, what with its emerging military and political relations with China as they stand in unison against Western democracies. “We are not in the business of balancing India-China ties,” Roman Babushkin, deputy head of mission in the Russian embassy in Delhi, says pointedly. “We have special but independent strategic relations with both India and China. We are not interfering in their bilateral ties…we want India and China to work towards de-escalation of the crisis,” Babushkin explains. However, much of the deep strategic, economic and cultural   bonds between the two nations endure—Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s attendance of the 75th anniversary celebrations of the V-Day parade in Moscow was symbolic of those ties, considering most Western powers gave it a miss. Rajnath is certain to have discussed the situation on the border, but not much is known of the Russian leadership’s reaction. Unlike US President Donald Trump who, as is his wont, offered to mediate, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said India and China need no help in resolving their differences.

One of the defining features of India’s foreign policy has been its closeness with Russia. It survived the break-up of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Yet in the last decade and more, the relationship has lost some of its pot­ency as both countries adjusted to a changing world order. While Moscow has veered towards China, India’s relations with the US have taken a quantum leap.

“India has global interests across the world and relations with US is certainly growing…. There are millions of Indians in the US, working, studying and settling there. In that way they are natural partners. And for dev­elopment and trade, India will look to all countries. This is no issue with Russia,” Babushkin points out. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

For Further Reference:

Potential of India-Israel Defense Partnership in Drone Technology:  Devsena Mishra, The Times of Israel, July 12, 2020 –– In a recent speech to Indian armed forces posted in Leh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reasserted India’s determination to the Self-Reliance goal when he said: “after getting inspired by you, the resolve of a self-reliant India becomes even more powerful.”

OPINION: Why Israel is ‘Kosher’ for Indian Academic Collaborations: Khinvraj Jangid, The Week, July 12, 2020 — The history of the state of Israel, and its image, are controversial matters in India. Israel has been a political and ideological question for India’s political class even before the establishment of the state in 1948.

Israel-India Spying Liaison Mutually Beneficial: Ex Mossad Top Man:  Nishtha Gautam, The Quint, Nov. 3, 2019 — “There has been intelligence cooperation between Israel and India over the years and these endeavours have been mutually beneficial.”

Aftermath of Deadly India-China Border Clashes Uncertain AP and ILHStaff, Times of Israel, June 17, 2020 — As some commentators clamored for revenge, India’s government was silent Wednesday amid the fallout from clashes with China’s army in a disputed border area in the high Himalayas that the Indian army said claimed the lives of 20 soldiers.

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