After 25 years of establishment of full diplomatic relations between India and Israel, Mr. Narendra Modi has been the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel. Though President of India and some ministers from India have made official visits to Israel earlier, such visits have not been viewed as of any particular significance or consequence, since they were looked upon more as cosmetic visits.
After establishing diplomatic relations, Israeli President and Prime Minister have visited India more than a decade back. The fact that no previous Prime Minister of India, who is the real power center in India, visited Israel was mainly due to their anxiety not to antagonize the Muslim countries in the middle east region, who were viewing Israel as sworn enemy.
Mr. Modi has now touched down in Tel Aviv saying that he was proud to make a groundbreaking visit to Israel. Mr. Modi’s statement terming the visit as groundbreaking has a lot of significance in the present juncture.
Visit in compelling circumstances:
Today, Israel and India need each other’s support and cooperation more than at any time in the past.
In the case of India , close cooperation and understanding with Israel are even more important than that for Israel. Mr. Modi has gone to Israel in compelling circumstances. It is not for mere signing agreements on technical or cultural cooperation.
What compulsions for India?
In spite of Mr. Modi’s immense popularity in India and the strong leadership that he is providing, the unrest and terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir has become an irksome problem for Mr. Modi. The ground reality is that the terrorists and the separatists in Jammu & Kashmir seem to have gained some foot hold and are waging almost open warfare with the Indian army.
India says that neighbor Pakistan is extending support to separatists and terrorists in Kashmir and Pakistan has repeatedly asserted that it supports what it calls as” liberation movement in Kashmir.”
While Pakistan is adopting such postures bordering on hatred against India, China’s increasingly aggressive positions against India make everyone suspect about China’s intentions. Many hostile statements have come from China in recent days, which amount to threats of military attack, that is creating tension in the border. The close relationship between China and Pakistan at present and their shared approach of hostility towards India make one suspect as to whether India will have to face conflicts on two fronts at the same time.
China has repeatedly adopted such aggressive approach towards India in the past, but China never mentioned earlier about military intervention, It has been accusing India of supporting Tibetan refugees and the Dalai Lama and is now saying that Indian troops have entered Chinese territory which does not appear to be the fact. India has ignored China’s demand that the Dalai Lama should not be allowed to visit Arunachal Pradesh.
One gets an impression that China is deliberately creating a climate of confrontation with India and one would not know as to whether China would confine itself to hostile statements or would go beyond that.
Under the circumstances, Mr. Modi has to work out his strategies necessarily. With the steadily growing economy in India, Mr. Modi would not want hostility in the border with China and Pakistan. But, if hostility were to be forced on India, then there is no alternative for Mr. Modi other than fighting back.
Today, India needs loyal friends abroad. President Trump of USA is widely considered to be unpredictable . European countries face multiple problems due to their permitting massive entry of refugees into Europe. In such circumstances, Mr. Modi cannot take for granted any meaningful support from USA or western countries. With massive trade and business opportunities being offered by China, most countries in the world including Russia are likely to remain as spectators in case of conflict between India and China / Pakistan.
Mr. Modi has the compulsions to look for loyal friends abroad.
Cooperation between India and Israel is of significance:
Israel has now common interests with India in fighting terrorism and protecting territorial integrity.
Israel can be reasonably expected to side with India in the case of any unfortunate conflict in the border. No doubt, Israel is a small country by size and population. But, the enormous inherent strength that the country has, as exhibited in the last seventy years, can certainly be a big asset for India, if Israel’s support for India would remain total.
Further, Israel stand cannot be ignored by the US, even with a volatile President like Trump in the office.
No doubt, Modi’s visit to Israel is one of great significance.
Israel and India want to be seen together:
Understanding Mr. Modi’s compulsions to cement relationships with Israel and realizing the benefits that Israel would get by fostering such close ties, Israeli Prime Minister Mr. Bejamin Nethanyahu has responded to Mr. Modi’s handshake with warmth.
The fact that Mr. Modi and Mr. Nethanyahu not only repeatedly shook hands but also hugged each other many times at every opportunity, particularly in full view of public and giving time for the photographers to take the shots, clearly highlight the fact that not only India and Israel want to be close to each other but want the whole world to know this groundbreaking development, in their friendship and cooperation.
The world will not fail to see this trend and two countries namely China and Pakistan will view this development with great interest and with anxiety. Of course, the Muslim countries in West Asia may choose to ignore the significance of the developing close relationships with India and Israel, since the Muslim countries have enough problems between themselves and old rhetorics against Israel are no more as strong as it was long back.