India-Israel Relations


    In News

    • Recently, the President of Israel attended a cultural event at the Israel Museum to inaugurate the new exhibition titled ‘Body of Faith: Sculpture from the National Museum of India’

    Israel on ties with India: Key Highlights

    • This exhibition, literally ‘spirit within matter’ in Hebrew, is yet another byproduct of the growing friendship between the Indian and Israeli nations and a reflection of the deep resonance of arts and culture that our nations share.
    • Israel’s President made a rare appearance at an exhibition here featuring Indian deities and temple rituals.
    • India and Israel are “natural allies” who are united by a fundamental commitment to the democratic ideals upon which they were founded
    • The display features 14 exquisite large-scale Indian sculptures created between the fourth and thirteenth centuries, some on loan from the National Museum in New Delhi and some from the Israel Museum’s collection.

    India-Israel Relations

    • Diplomatic Relations:
      • India officially recognised Israel in 1950. Soon after, Israel established an immigration office in Bombay which was later converted into a Trade Office and subsequently a Consulate. 
      • However full diplomatic relations were established only in 1992 and Embassies were opened.
    • Economic and Commercial Relations:
      • The bilateral merchandise trade grew from USD 200 million in 1992 to USD 6.35 billion (excluding defence) during the period 2021-2022, with the balance of trade being in India’s favour.
      • India is Israel’s third-largest trade partner in Asia and seventh largest globally.
      • In recent years, bilateral trade has diversified into several sectors such as pharmaceuticals, agriculture, IT and telecom, and homeland security.
      • Israeli companies have been instrumental in transferring technology to India in areas like renewable energy, telecom, water technologies. Many of them have also set up R&D centers in India.
      • The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries is also on cards.
    • Defence Cooperation:
      • India imports critical defence technologies from Israel. There are regular exchanges between the armed forces. 
      • There is cooperation on security issues, including a Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism. 
      • Indian armed forces use Israeli Phalcon AWACS (Airborne Warning And Control Systems), Heron drones and Barak anti-missile defence systems.
    • Cooperation in Agriculture:
      • A three year joint work program has been signed between the two countries in 2021 for development in agriculture cooperation.
      • It is aimed at establishing Centers of Excellence, intensifying value chains  and encouraging private investment.
      • India has benefited from Israeli expertise and technologies in horticulture mechanization, orchard and canopy management, micro- irrigation and post-harvest management.
      • Israeli drip irrigation technologies and products are now widely used in India. Some Israeli companies and experts are providing expertise to manage and improve dairy farming in India through their expertise in high milk yield. 
    • Science & Technology:
      • The two countries have established a Joint Committee on S&T, established under the S&T Cooperation Agreement signed in 1993. 
      • India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund (I4F) has been set up to secure cooperation between the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, and the Israel Innovation Authority, Government of Israel to promote, facilitate and support joint industrial R&D projects.
      • It will address the challenges in the agreed ‘Focus Sectors’. 
    • Energy:
      • Tamar and Levianthan gas fields off the coast of Israel were explored recently and India has been one of the first countries to bid for an exploration licence in order to extract and import natural gas from the fields.
      • India’s ONGC Videsh, Bharat PetroResources, Indian Oil and Oil India were awarded an exploration licence by the Israeli government, a clear sign of the ongoing diversification in ties between the two countries.


    Way Ahead

    • P2P contact: Despite increasing bonhomie between the two states, the people to people contact still lacks. Increased citizens engagement will give further depth to the relations between the two countries.
    • Bigger trade volumes: Though the trade volumes between the two countries have been increasing year on year, still it’s much below its potential level. FTA should be executed soon and the trade basket must expand.
    • Striking balance: Though Israel comes across as a natural partner, India should also be concerned about the human rights issues in Palestine. So far, India has been able to balance its geostrategic needs and international morality.
    • China and Israel: Of late China’s engagement has been continuously growing with Israel primarily for the latter’s technology. India should be proactive in evolving its partnership with Israel from hereon.

    Source: IE