by Hammad Baloch 11 October 2023
The Israel-Hamas crisis, which unfolded over a weekend, was a stark reminder of the enduring tensions in the Middle East. It began with a sudden escalation of violence, marked by rocket attacks from Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip and Israeli airstrikes in response. The crisis resulted in significant civilian casualties, both in Israel and Gaza, and raised concerns worldwide. While the crisis itself was a localized conflict, its implications reverberated on the global stage. The immediate response of various nations, including India, highlighted the intricate web of international alliances and the need for diplomatic agility in addressing such crises. The India-Israel relationship, which has undergone significant transformation in recent years, played a notable role in this context. The quick and unequivocal support offered by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel was a testament to the evolving dynamics of global politics and India’s own strategic recalibration.
The path that led to India’s swift response to the Israel-Hamas crisis has historical underpinnings. For many years following India’s independence in 1947, the nation maintained no diplomatic ties with Israel. This reluctance to engage with Israel stemmed from the anti-colonial sentiments of India’s leaders, who were deeply sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and critical of the establishment of Israel based on Zionism It was only in 1992 that India formally recognized Israel, marking a pivotal moment in their relationship. However, even after the establishment of formal diplomatic ties, it took several years for the nations to evolve from mere recognition to robust partnership. The turning point in this trajectory came with the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014. Under his leadership, India-Israel relations began to take a friendly turn. India’s abstention from a critical UN vote on whether Israel should face scrutiny for alleged war crimes in Gaza in 2015 and 2016 marked a shift from India’s previous voting patterns. In 2017, Modi became the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel, solidifying this growing friendship.
The rapid evolution of India-Israel relations carries profound geopolitical significance. It reflects not only a recalibration of India’s foreign policy but also underscores the changing dynamics in the Middle East and the broader international arena. The deepening partnership between the two nations is emblematic of a broader trend: the growing convergence of interests among democracies. The transformation of this relationship comes at a time when the international community is grappling with complex challenges, including the rise of regional powers, the resurgence of authoritarianism, and the persistent threat of terrorism. In such a landscape, India’s strategic alignment with Israel offers several advantages.
One of the standout features of the India-Israel relationship is the technological synergy between the two nations. Israel’s remarkable technological advancements, particularly in areas like defense, agriculture, and cybersecurity, have positioned it as an invaluable partner for India. As India aspires to attain self-sufficiency and modernize its economy, these collaborations provide a critical boost. The transformation of India-Israel relations is emblematic of a broader geopolitical realignment. It reflects the changing nature of alliances and partnerships in a world marked by fluidity and complexity. India’s pivot towards Israel underscores its growing assertiveness in international diplomacy.
While the India-Israel partnership holds significant promise, it also comes with its set of challenges and considerations. Striking a balance between India’s historic support for the Palestinian cause and the newfound camaraderie with Israel remains a delicate diplomatic act. India must navigate this terrain with tact and finesse, as the Palestinian issue remains a deeply emotional and important matter in the Middle East and many parts of the world. Additionally, the political and ideological commonalities between India’s BJP and Israel’s Likud party raise questions about the ethics and values that underscore this partnership. Both nations must ensure that their strategic alignment does not compromise the principles of inclusivity and diversity that underpin their respective societies.
The journey of India-Israel relations, from a history of non-recognition to a blossoming strategic partnership, is emblematic of the shifting sands of global politics. India’s swift response to the Israel-Hamas crisis underlines the newfound importance of this relationship in the nation’s foreign policy calculus. As both countries work together in a dynamic, changing world, their partnership not only elevates their own national interests but also contributes to a more secure and stable global order. As the geopolitical landscape continues to evolve, the India-Israel partnership offers a beacon of cooperation in an often tumultuous world. The diplomatic synergy between these two democracies serves as a testament to the enduring bonds that can be forged even in the most unexpected of circumstances. It is a reminder that diplomacy and collaboration can transcend historical narratives and pave the way for a more secure, peaceful, and prosperous world. In an ever-changing global landscape, India’s partnership with Israel represents a bright spot, highlighting the potential for democracies to come together and address shared challenges, ultimately contributing to a more stable and secure world. As both nations navigate the complexities of modern geopolitics, their evolving relationship will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory of international affairs and global politics.