The Delicate Balance: Israel and India's Foreign Policy Practice

Dr S. Samuel C. Rajiv is Associate Fellow at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile
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  • January 2012

    India's foreign policy interactions with Israel are marked by a political discreetness which is in contrast to its prominent political engagement with the Palestinians and countries of the Arab world. India plays down its robust defence engagement with Israel, censures Israeli policies regarding the Palestinians, supports Palestinian-related resolutions at multi-lateral forums like the UN, differs strongly from Israeli policy on issues such as Iran's nuclear programme while being opposed to the possibility of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons capability. This policy has expanded the space for India to pursue its foreign policy and national interest goals, as attested to by the robust political and economic interaction with the Palestinians and the Arab countries, and rising defence and economic engagement with Israel despite certain domestic constituencies opposed to such a partnership. However, the limitations of such a policy include the minimal role that India has been able to play in the Middle East peace process, ‘diplomatic heartburn’ of an ally deeply involved in the security sphere—as is evident in the Israeli reaction to the Indian stance on the Goldstone report, for instance—and limited ‘comfort zones’ if crisis situations arise. Greater political engagement could be a bulwark against such tendencies and also provide important opportunities to convey India's concerns regarding the Palestinians more forcefully.