As Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj arrived in Tel Aviv on Monday for a two-day visit, Israel has openly talked about its interests with India for the first time.
When an Israeli ambassador to India was asked about the bilateral defence relationship in the past, he refused to give a direct answer. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has changed the scenario through his “pro-active” diplomacy and brought India closer to the Jewish nation. Ahead of Swaraj’s arrival in his country, Israeli Ambassador to New Delhi Daniel Carmon declared that the defence co-operation is central pillars of the bilateral relationship.
Carmon said: “The changing world, changing parameters, changing needs are always something that is on the top of our agenda and always on our radar.” According to the seasoned diplomat, recent tests of the Barak 8 missile in both the countries should be considered as shining examples of joint ventures in the defence sector.
Although Prime Minister Modi indicated a change in bilateral relations by meeting his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UNGA in New York in September 2014, New Delhi is fully aware of the complexity of this relationship mainly because of its stance on the Palestinian issue. Even Swaraj has maintained India’s position of support to the Palestinian cause.
Upon her arrival in Tel Aviv, Swaraj said that main purpose of the visit is to boost the burgeoning bilateral co-operation in different areas, such as counter-terrorism and water management. She deliberately avoided the term “defence co-operation” and stressed on “counter-terrorism”. The Indian minister’s statement, too, reflects New Delhi’s traditional balancing act between Palestine and Israel. Swaraj, who travelled to Ramallah for talks with the Palestinian leadership before heading to Israel, knows that the balancing of the relationship is an integral part of ties between India and Israel.