Daily Briefing: Indio-Israeli Strategic Ties Are At All Time High (July 9,2019)

Gujarat National Law University Vice Chairman with Israeli Ambassador, 2016
Source: Wikimedia Commons

 

Table Of Contents 

 

Upward Trajectory Of Indo-Israeli Ties – Opinion:  Vinay Kaura, Jerusalem Post, June 5, 2019


Explaining India’s Position on Jerusalem and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict:   

  Guy Burton, Middle East Institute, Mar. 13, 2019


Why Prospects for Israeli-Pakistani Relations Remain Dim:  Vinay Kaura, Algemeiner, Nov. 23, 2018


Let’s Get Real About Pakistani-Russian Relations: Nasir Muhammad, Jerusalem Post, July 1, 2019

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Upward Trajectory Of Indo-Israeli Ties – Opinion
Vinay Kaura
Jerusalem Post, June 5, 2019

Narendra, my friend, congratulations! What an enormous victory,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on a phone call with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, who has registered an impressive electoral victory in an almost one-sided parliamentary election held recently. Excerpts of Netanyahu’s phone call were recorded and placed on his Facebook page. He further said “I hope that we can see each other very soon, as soon as you form a government and as soon as we form a government. There is much to discuss on so many other things.”

Netanyahu is correct that he has much to discuss with Modi, who defied conventional wisdom in Indian foreign policy by paying a first-ever prime ministerial to the Jewish state in 2017. It is no secret that Modi shares a personal rapport with Netanyahu. When Netanyahu visited India in February this year, he was personally received by Modi at the airport, setting aside protocol. The visit, which was a part of his wider international outreach before the Israeli general elections in April, was also Netanyahu’s second official trip to India in a little over a year since in January 2018.

Ever since Modi became India’s prime minister in 2014, Israel has acquired greater priority and visibility on India’s diplomatic radar. Modi can be credited with elevating the strategic dimension of the Indo-Israeli partnership by bringing the bilateral relationship out from under the carpet. Indo-Israeli strategic ties are at an all-time high now. During the Cold War period, India’s close ties with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had made India suspect in Israeli eyes. However, Israeli leaders often demonstrated considerable understanding of the constraints behind India’s politico-diplomatic support for the Palestinians against the backdrop of New Delhi’s concerns over arch-rival Pakistan’s efforts to mobilize the Arab states against India on the issue of Kashmir.

Since the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1992, the Indo-Israeli dynamic has improved tremendously, as reflected in a significant upward trend in defense cooperation, intelligence sharing, and counterterrorism. Defense cooperation – the central pillar of the relationship – has increased dramatically under the Modi government. According to the SIPRI data, during the 2014-18 period, India was the topmost buyer of weapons from Israel.

India’s recent acquisitions from Israel range from Phalcon AWACS (airborne warning and control system), Searcher, Heron and Harop UAVs to Aerostat and Green Pine radars and several types of missiles and laser-guided bombs. Israel’s state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is operationalizing a $630 million deal with India related to the supply of LRSAM (long-range surface-to-air missiles) systems to four ships in the Indian navy. In 2017, the Indian Air Force had participated for the first time in an air combat multinational exercise in Israel with six other nations – the United States, Greece, Poland, France, Germany, and Italy.

Israel’s Elbit and India’s Ashok Leyland have agreed in December 2018 for mounting Elbit’s artillery guns on wheeled vehicles. India’s Adani Defense and Aerospace have also signed a contract with Elbit to construct UAVs in India, including its Hermes 900 and Hermes 450. The Indian Navy recently celebrated its successful test firing of a medium-range surface-to-air missile (MRSAM), which is a ship-based version of Israel’s Barak 8 missile that India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) had jointly developed with Israel Aerospace Industries. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

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Explaining India’s Position on Jerusalem and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Guy Burton
Middle East Institute, Mar. 13, 2019

When President Donald Trump announced that the United States would move its embassy to Jerusalem on December 6, 2017,[1] he effectively recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, much to the delight of the Netanyahu administration and its supporters.[2] At the same time, he undid a long-standing international consensus not to prejudge the city’s status before a final peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

India’s initial response to the US decision was ambivalent. When asked to articulate New Delhi’s position, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) reported that “India’s position on Palestine is independent and consistent. It is shaped by our views and interests, and not determined by any third country.” [3] An Indian commentator, characterizing this position as “neutral posturing,”  offered a compelling explanation for its adoption:

This highly calibrated and diplomatically-measured statement encapsulates India’s complex balancing act with respect to not just Israel-Palestine, but also the US and the entire West Asian region extending to the Gulf.[4]

Indeed, since the end of the Cold War, India has developed a strategic partnership with the United States — one that it values and is determined to preserve. Equally important to India are its multifaceted economic relations with the Gulf Arab states.[5]

The Indian Response to the US Declaration on Jerusalem

Wider international opposition to the US decision continued in the weeks that followed. In India, several Arab ambassadors expressed their dissatisfaction with New Delhi’s position, pressing their interlocutors to take a stronger position.[6] On December 18 the UN Security Council voted 14 to 1 to uphold existing UN resolutions on Jerusalem, with the United States having cast the lone vote against the draft resolution and effectively vetoing it. The motion was subsequently referred to the UN General Assembly meeting in emergency session. In retaliation, the Trump administration threatened to cut off aid to countries critical of the US decision.[7]

Indian public opinion was divided in the lead up to the vote. Some wanted to see India vote in line with the US while others wanted it to vote against or abstain. Among the latter was the prominent analyst of India’s relations with the Israeli and Palestinian, P.R. Kumaraswamy, who argued that,
[The] US declaration on Jerusalem cannot become our problem. We have to point out that Jerusalem belongs to all its claimants and the claimants need to be reminded that they have repeatedly come up with exclusivist claims … India should not even abstain. Our representatives to the UN General Assembly should stay absent during the voting which would express our position effectively.[8] … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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Why Prospects for Israeli-Pakistani Relations Remain Dim
Vinay Kaura
Algemeiner, Nov. 23, 2018

On October 25, an Israeli journalist tweeted that an Israeli jet had flown from Tel Aviv to Islamabad, where it spent 10 hours before flying back. The tweet spread like wildfire, prompting Pakistan’s opposition parties to demand an explanation for the “secret Israeli mission.” Pakistani President Arif Alvi responded by ruling out the establishment of any kind of relations with Israel.

During the news frenzy, Pakistan’s Urdu and English-language media went into overdrive, with some even suggesting that it was Netanyahu himself who had secretly visited Islamabad in conjunction with his trip to Oman. (Neither Oman nor Pakistan has diplomatic ties with Israel.) The PTI-led government not only categorically dismissed the very idea of an Israeli jet landing in Islamabad, but claimed that the report was part of a conspiracy. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry rejected the reports entirely, asserting that the PTI government “would not negotiate in secret with either Israel or India.”

A meeting between Israeli and Pakistani officials in Islamabad would be a major geopolitical development and, true or not, the report triggered a public debate on the issue. However, it remains highly unlikely that Pakistan will consider establishing formal relations with the State of Israel for the foreseeable future.

Israel is a taboo subject in Pakistan. For seven decades, the country’s ruling class and population have supported the Palestinians without Islamabad having to do much to encourage them. In the past, both Pakistan and India have pursued their own interests in the Middle East by championing the Palestinian cause. While Pakistan used the Islamic factor to assert its pro-Arab credentials, India used secular logic to justify its support. But the world changed dramatically with the end of the Cold War, and the picture shifted. India established full diplomatic relations with Israel, opening an embassy in Tel Aviv in January 1992.

At a time when many Arab countries have taken a pragmatic stand towards the Israel-Palestine issue, Pakistan’s policy remains frozen in time. Turkey, one of the most powerful players on the West Asian geopolitical chessboard, has formal ties with Israel. Egypt, the largest Arab state, has had ties with Israel since the 1979 peace treaty. Jordan followed suit in 1994. Saudi Arabia, too, under Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, has begun to tone down its public rhetoric against Israel, and there are signs that Riyadh might be contemplating formal ties with Tel Aviv. Since Pakistan follows the Saudi line on many global issues, there has been speculation that Islamabad might follow suit, particularly in view of its growing economic dependence on Riyadh. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

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Let’s Get Real About Pakistani-Russian Relations
Nasir Muhammad
Jerusalem Post, July 1, 2019

The brief, but relatively pleasant interactions between Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the recently concluded Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, were widely reported in Pakistan’s mainstream media and hailed by the youth of the country on social media as a potentially “quick reset” in ties between the two Cold War rival nations.

In other words, many at home in Pakistan seemed to think that Moscow and Islamabad are now strong allies because Khan had some good moments with Putin – unlike Indian’s Narendra Modi, the recently re-elected leader of Pakistan’s archrival. Wrong!

It is quite interesting to see that both Khan and Putin nonetheless share some spectacular attributes (both innate and acquired), such as their almost identical birthdays (October 5 and 7, 1952, respectively), athletic and fit physiques, their ultra-nationalism and patriotism, anti-Americanism and a strong stand against corruption, as well as pro-people policies, among other things. However, their polar differences – such as their divergent stand on the freedom of media, human rights, democracy, revolution (“tsunami” in Khan’s language), international relations and pragmatism – outshine their similarities.

This is in addition to the fact that Khan is a newcomer to government, with little to no diplomatic skills, while Putin is a former elite KGB spy who has been successfully ruling his country for the past 20 years and who has flamboyant diplomatic skills with epic articulation.

Long gone are the days when alliance systems among nations used to be based upon and cemented by the personal chemistry between political leadership, ideological kinship, usual spell of diplomacy and other such intangible and immaterial attributes. This marked shift has especially been a hallmark of the post-bipolar world.

What we see and refer to today as a “cordial or special relationship” and/or “a strong bond” among certain nations of the world basically stems from the strong economic and/or technological interdependence that have held them together. Hence the term “economic diplomacy.” This certainly does not apply when one speaks of Pakistani-Russian relations – especially vis-à-vis Indo-Russian relations and despite some military-to-military contacts in the past few years between Pakistan and Russia.

Khan needs to understand Putin, as well the country that the latter has been ruling since 1999, to launch meaningful ties with the powerful bear to the north.

Ever since Putin assumed the reins of power, there has been only one thing on his mind: advancing and stabilizing his country’s economy. The KGB spy-turned president knew well that without an economically viable Russia, competition with the US-led Free World was only a mad man’s dream. This approach can be corroborated by the fact that in 2000, the GDP per capita in Russia was only $1,899, but in 2017 it stood at $10,966. Also, Russia is forecast to become the world’s fifth largest economy by 2020. This happened due to, among many factors, Putin’s emphasis on revitalizing the fractured economic bonds between Russia and some powerful economies in Europe and Asia.

For instance, Russia’s bilateral annual trade volume with Japan in 2003 was $6 billion, whereas it jumped to $14b. in 2018. With China, it was below $2b. in the late 1990s but stood at $107b. as of 2018. And lastly, trade with India, Pakistan’s longtime rival, is expected to hit $30b. by 2025.
… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
 

On Topic Links
 

What’s driving India closer to Israel? | Inside StoryAl Jazeera, July 4, 2017, Video — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has welcomed to Israel on Tuesday Narendra Modi.

In First, India Votes in Favour of Israel at UN:  Gulf News World, June 11, 2019 — On June 6, in a rare move, India voted in support of Israel at the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). New Delhi supported the denial of observer status to Shahed, a Palestinian non-governmental human rights organisation.

Report: India Scraps Israel Anti-Tank Guided Missiles Deal (Again)

Franz-Stefan Gady, The Diplomat, June 24, 2019 — The Indian government has scrapped a deal to import Israeli-made Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Spike medium-range (MR) anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) and launchers in favor of the indigenously designed and developed man-portable anti-tank guided missile (MPATGM), according to local media reports.

 

India’s Oil Habit Puts It in Firing Line From a U.S.-Iran War:  Debjit Chakraborty and Saket Sundria, Bloomberg, June 25, 2019 — India, which is heavily dependent on Middle Eastern oil, is looking on with increasing apprehension as the U.S. and Iran flirt with war.