Sunday, January 15, 2012

India-Israel Cooperation: Krishna’s Visit to Tel Aviv

India and Israel have vowed to upgrade their relations in all fields amid the emphasis by External Affairs Minister SM Krishna on working out a joint strategy to "checkmate" the scourge of terrorism affecting both the countries. Krishna’s visit to Israel assumes significance because the last such trip took place in July 2000 when the then External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh traveled here.
The two countries signed an Extradition Treaty and a pact on Transfer of Sentenced Prisoners as Krishna wound up his two-day visit here, first by an Indian Foreign Minister in over a decade.
During his stay, Krishna met the top leadership including President Simon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu besides holding elaborate talks with his counterpart Avigdor Lieberman.
Landmark Visit
Krishna’s visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories earlier this week was a landmark one. In this India displayed, for the first time, open even-handedness, compromising neither its core interests nor core beliefs. In Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the external affairs minister candidly laid down the significance of India-Israel relations, speaking without hesitation of the reasons why cooperation with Israel was necessary. He stressed agriculture: this country has in recent years counted on Israeli aid in technologies and techniques relating to dryland farming. But mention must be made of the defense equipment and technologies that we get from Israel, which are vitally needed on our borders. The unmanned aerial vehicles and night-fighting equipment of Israeli make have vastly improved India’s management of the border regions with Pakistan and enhanced our capabilities to neutralize infiltration by terrorist groups. It was, therefore, natural for Krishna to mention anti-terrorism cooperation. In recent years, Israel has emerged as a significant source of military hardware alongside Russia and some Western countries.
Tel Aviv’s Support for New Delhi’s UN Seat
Krishna was received with warmth in Ramallah, headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, after his talks in the Israeli capital, indicating the importance the Palestinians attach to India’s unflinching political support for their cause of “an independent, sovereign and viable Palestinian state”, to quote from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s speech at the UN General Assembly in September, where India made a strong pitch for granting Palestine UN membership in the face of opposition from the United States and its Western allies.

Friendship with both Israel and the Palestinians is not a zero-sum game — one cannot be at the cost of the other, although certain constituencies here continue to adopt such a shortsighted approach. This was underlined without blushing during Krishna’s recent sojourn. If it is important for various reasons to do business with Israel, it is no less necessary to uphold the principle of Palestinian rights and make efforts to give it practical shape.

No comments: