When it comes to Israel, India seems to be wanting to have an affair and not a serious committed relationship. With Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming trip to India, it seems like the ‘affair’ might be expanding beyond just military trade so Modi government desperately attempts to ‘balance’ it by hosting Arab as well as Iranian diplomats.
Seven months from now, Indian PM Narendra Modi made a historic Visit to Israel and now, Netanyahu is scheduled for a 4-day-long trip to India. It is also tough to ignore India’s voting against Israel during the UNGA’s votes against the US’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. But the ‘affair’ still continues to expand – like those charmed moments between leaders of both countries, exchanges of good wishes on Twitter between the countries’ representatives, cooperation in areas like agriculture and water, and of course the military trades. While it may seem like Netanyahu’s trip to India will forge the love affair between two countries into something serious, India seems to be jittered.
There are talks about new era for India-Israel relations, but India feels the complexity it faces because of its relations with the Arab and Muslim world has never been accurately presented in Israel. That partly explains India’s vote in the UNGA, and that might as well be a sufficient explanation for hosting Arab and Iranian diplomats – just two weeks before Netanyahu’s arrival at New Delhi. After every step from India that may be perceived as pro-Israeli, Indian Foreign Ministry takes care to make a counterbalanced move, such as inviting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for a visit right after Modi’s PM visit.
And now, Netanyahu’s visit from January 14 to 19, will be preceded by a visit by Iran’s transport minister to discuss the launch of International North-South Transportation Corridor. Also, along with Netanyahu, India will also host the Egyptian foreign minister and the deputy foreign minister of the UAE who will be taking part in the Raisina Dialogue. It is to see what the New Delhi decision makers choose, but one thing is sure, walking hand in hand towards the sunset on a beach isn’t enough to provide security and trust necessary for India to fall for a committed relationship with Israel.