It is happy augury that India is shedding its reticence over dealing with Israel. For far too long, India has been coy about its close ties with Israel, keeping in mind the sensitivities of many Muslim nations with whom New Delhi enjoys sound relations. But things have changed a lot and this linear diplomatic approach no longer holds good. Several old-time “enemies” of Israel, such as Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, are no longer in violent confrontation with the existence of the Jewish nation. If they have learned to live with Israel—just as Israel has learned to live with them—there is no reason why India should remain on the defensive. The first interaction between the premiers of the two nations in 11 years with the leader of the Jewish state saying that “sky is the limit” for bilateral relations acquired a special significance. It must also be remembered that Israel has always been by India’s side whenever the latter faced a tricky situation on global platforms, and often helped it covertly during crises.
Israeli prime minister Netanyahu briefed his Indian counterpart about the West Asia crisis, with emphasis on Gaza, and Israel’s conflict with Iran. The agenda of the meeting went beyond the usual exchange of ideas—the latest drip irrigation technologies, for instance, or defence cooperation—between the two nations. Netanyahu has also extended an invitation to Modi to visit Israel and the Indian prime minister has taken “note” of it. It will be interesting to see if Modi accepts the invite because, if he does, it will be a landmark decision.
As of now, he will be keen to harness for India the enormous clout the Jewish community and Israel have among lawmakers in the US. Modi’s interaction with an influential Jewish group in New York was an effort in that direction. The time is indeed propitious for India to draw upon Israeli goodwill and expertise to combat Pakistani terror. There is no point in being unduly shy of taking Israeli help in this key area.