IAS Main Exam International Relations: India and Israel

India’s new pragmatic foreign policy is influencing the bilateral links around the world. This global impact is evident with the increase in a number of questions on international relations in UPSC IAS Prelims and Mains Exam. Here, we are providing an analysis of bilateral ties with one of the most powerful countries in the troubled land of Middle East that is Israel.

India Israel for IASGrowing importance of international relations and global politics in UPSC IAS Mains is evident of India’s rising role in world politics.

Indian Foreign Policy for IAS Main Exam 2016

Narendra Modi has become the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel State. Here we will cover India and Israel growing relations and future way ahead’s to prosperity.

“'I' for 'I' is India for Israel, and 'I' with 'I' is India with Israel”- Narendra Modi

Probable Questions:

1. Critically analyse the recent developments in India and Israel relations and how India has strengthened strategic partnership with Israel?

2. Describe Israel’s role in enhancing water conservation practices in Indian agriculture?

3. The major highlight of India-Israel relations are the series of defence and military deals- Comment

Recent Interactions:

The diplomatic relations between India and Israel was established in 1992, during Narasimha Rao government. Narendra Modi, who was in Israel from 4 July to 6 July 2017, is the first Prime Minister of India to visit Israel in 70 years.

List of MoUs/Agreements signed during the visit of Prime Minister to Israel

• MoU for setting up of India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund (I4F): It was signed between the Department of Science & Technology, India and National Technological Innovation Authority, Israel

• MoU regarding cooperation in Electric Propulsion for Small Satellites: It was signed between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Israel Space Agency (ISA).

• MoU on National Campaign for Water Conservation in India: It was signed between the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and the Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources of the State of Israel.

• MoU regarding cooperation in GEO-LEO Optical Link: It was signed between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Israel Space Agency (ISA).

• Plan of Cooperation regarding cooperation in Atomic Clocks was signed between the ISRO and the ISA.

• MoU on State Water Utility Reform in India: It was signed between UP Jal Nigam, Government of Uttar Pradesh and the Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources of the State of Israel.

• Three Year Work Program in Agriculture 2018-2020

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Israel’s role in the Middle East and Why Israel is so significant? – (Where there is strength, there is peace at least)

Israelis have gifted the land they had fought for years over for having a safe Jewish country after the Holocaust. Palestinians inhabited the land before Israelis and Jewish refugees flooded in. So the territorial disputes remain intact. The twin goals of Israel's foreign policy have always been peace and security two concepts that are closely interrelated.

The Middle East is a mixture of peoples, religions, languages and cultures. Although the Muslim-Arab culture is predominant, it has not produced any homogeneity. The region is permanently in ferment, and frequently unrest flares up in violence, terror, insurrection, civil strife and open prolonged warfare.

Being a superpower, Israel plays a huge role in the stability of Middle East by just existing. The only reason many Arab countries talk to each other and have an organisation (Arab League) is that the only common ground they have is their hate for Israel. So Israel has a very passive role in the stability of the Middle East. Israel takes a larger humanitarian role and expands the medical help to wounded civilians from Syria. It has also played a pivot role in handling refugee camps from the war-torn Syria and Gaza.

Moreover, the technological and industrial advancements of Israel can have a ripple effect around the middle- east region; especially the exceptional water conservation techniques adapted by Israel can have the holistic advantage to the arid and barren lands of Arab countries.


India recognised Israel in 1950, but its principled support for Palestinian self-determination and a practical desire to remain on good terms with the Arab world prevented India from establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel until 1992. The end of the Cold War and the changing landscape of Middle East politics had provided India powerful incentives to change course.



Ezer Weizman became the first Israeli President to visit India.



L.K Advani became the first Indian minister to visit the state of Israel. The two countries set up a joint anti-terror commission. Both countries intensified co-operation from counter-terrorism to information technology.





Ariel Sharon was the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit India. Several newspapers expressed positive views on his visit, and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee voiced confidence that Sharon's visit would pave the way for further consolidating bilateral ties.

Sharon's visit was condemned in leftist and Muslim circles. Sharon said that Israelis Regard India to be one of the most important countries in the world.




Despite India's unwavering support for the Palestinian cause, Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna made a two-day visit to Israel in 2012.




Modi met his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu in New York City on the sideline of the UN General Assembly during his US visit in 2014. This was the first meeting between the Prime Ministers of the two countries in over a decade.

Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited Israel in November 2014 to observe the country's border security arrangements. A high-level Israeli delegation with the Agriculture Minister of Israel also participated in the Vibrant Gujarat summit in 2015.




Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon came to India. During his visit, he participated in Aero India 2015.

Pranab Mukherjee became the first Indian President to visit Israel. Pranab Mukherjee was given the rare honour of addressing the Knesset.





Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Israel and during the visit, she visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem and the Indian Jewish communities in Israel.

Minister of Agriculture (India), Radha Mohan Singh visited Israel to bolster India-Israel agricultural ties where the discussion concerned about collaborative opportunities in agriculture between both the countries.




In July 2017, Narendra Modi became the first ever Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel. It was noted that Prime Minister Modi did not visit Palestine during the trip, breaking from convention. The Indian media described the move as the "de-hyphenation" of India's relations with the Israel and Palestine.

Military and Strategic Relations:

India and Israel have increased collaboration in military ventures since the establishment of diplomatic relations. The rise of Islamic extremist terrorism has helped both the countries to join hands against the global threat of terrorism.

IAI is developing the Barak 8 missile for the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force which is capable of protecting sea vessels and ground facilities from aircraft and cruise missiles.
In 2016, the Indian government approved the purchase of two more Phalcon AWACS. India and Israel are also planning to hold their joint military exercise soon.

Bilateral trade:

As of 2014, India is Israel's tenth-largest trade partner and import source, and seventh-largest export source. India's major exports to Israel include precious stones and metals, organic chemicals, electronic equipment, plastics, vehicles, machinery, engines, pumps, clothing and textiles, and medical and technical equipment. Israeli exports to India amounted to 3.2% of its overall exports in 2014.

IAS Main Exam IR Topic : India and China Relations

Israel proposed starting negotiations on a free trade agreement with India, and in 2010 India accepted that proposal. The agreement is set to focus on many key economic sectors, including information technology, biotechnology, water management, pharmaceuticals, and agriculture.

Space collaboration:

India and Israel have signed a cooperative agreement promoting space collaboration between both nations. The two countries have also signed an agreement outlining the deployment of TAUVEX, an Israeli space telescope array, on India's GSAT-4, a planned navigation and communication satellite. The GSAT-4 itself failed to launch, due to the failure of its cryogenic engine.

In 2008, TecSAR was successfully inserted into orbit by India's PSLV. One of TecSAR's primary functions is to monitor Iran's military activities.
In 2009, India successfully launched RISAT-2, a synthetic aperture radar imaging satellite. The launch of the RISAT-2 satellite aimed to provide India with greater earth observation power, which would improve disaster management, and increase surveillance and defence capabilities.

Agriculture cooperation and water conservation:

In 2008, Israel and India finalised an agricultural plan introducing crops native to the Middle East and Mediterranean to India, with a particular focus on olives. Subsequently, around 112,000 olive trees were planted in the desert of Rajasthan. In 2014, more than 100 tonnes of olives were produced in Rajasthan.
In 2008, Israel and India signed the Agriculture Cooperation Agreement, which established the Indo-Israel Agricultural Cooperation Project. The project's central aim is to utilise Israeli technology to increase crop productivity and diversity in various regions in India.

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The implementation of the project occurs through the establishment of agricultural centres of excellence in India that focus on growing horticulture crops, producing seeds and cut flowers, and also on beekeeping and dairy farming. As of 2015, 15 centres of excellence are fully operational, spanning 10 Indian states.

In 2014, Israel made plans to open two agricultural centres of excellence in Bihar, focusing on increasing productivity of vegetable and mango crops.
Israel has offered to help the India government with a project to clean the Ganga. Israeli offers Israel's expertise in water management to battle water scarcity. Israel is keen to help in India meet its water needs for agriculture and drinking and was pushing for more government-to-government agreements.


For the past 25 years, India has generally conducted its Israel policy with careful attention to the sensitivities of Palestinians. But now, India has delinked India’s relationship with Israel from the question of Palestinian self-determination.

Trade and investment between India and Israel are growing in agriculture, information technology, and other sectors. But it is the military and intelligence cooperation that are driving the relationship. The official highlight of Modi’s visit is the series of defence deals. Israel is now India’s number two arms supplier, and India is among Israel’s biggest customers for military equipment. Israeli defence companies are establishing joint ventures to produce small arms in India.

India’s evolving ties with Israel are based on pragmatism and the desire to avoid hypocrisy but Mr Modi has infused a substance that could mark a point of disappearance in India’s moral support to the Palestinian cause.

International Relations (IR) for UPSC IAS Main Exam

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