Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Israel earlier today to further strengthen bilateral ties between India and Israel. The three-day state visit is the first by an Indian prime minister to Israel in the Jewish state’s history since its founding nearly 70 years ago.
The past 25 years have witnessed India and Israel embark upon a multidimensional strategic partnership spanning multiple areas of cooperation. Although defense and security ties have emerged as the cornerstones of the relationship, cooperation between the two countries spans virtually every arena of human endeavor imaginable: from agriculture, technology and education, to space exploration, entrepreneurship, and trade.
Such a relationship was inconceivable just a quarter-century ago. Despite sharing many similarities with Israel — a British colonial past, a democratic system of government, and hostile neighbors — India historically maintained a diplomatic distance from the Jewish state. New Delhi’s position was motivated by both domestic and foreign policy concerns. Indian leaders did not want to risk alienating its 150 million Muslims citizens at home or the greater Arab world abroad. The result was a lopsided policy that reflexively supported the Palestinian position at the expense of Israel. India refused to grant the Jewish state full diplomatic recognition and instead became one of its chief critics in international fora such as the United Nations.