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Indo-Israeli relations

Indo-Israeli relations

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Encyclopedia
Indo-Israeli relations refers to the bilateral ties between the the Republic of India and the State of Israel. The two countries enjoy an extensive economic, military and strategic relationship.

After decades of non-aligned
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

 and pro-Arab policy, India formally established relations with Israel in January 1992 and ties between the two nations have flourished since, primarily due to common strategic interests and security threats. One multi-national study revealed India to be the most pro-Israeli nation. On a diplomatic level, both the countries have managed to maintain healthy relations despite India's repeated strong condemnations of Israeli military actions in Palestinian territories
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

, which are believed by analysts to be motivated by the government's desire for Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 votes in India..

India is the largest customer of Israeli military equipment and Israel is the second-largest military partner of India after the Russian Federation. As of 2009, the military business between the two nations is worth around US$9 billion. Military and strategic ties between the two nations extend to joint military training and space technology. India is Israel's largest defense market, accounting for almost fifty percent of Israeli sales.

India is also the second-largest Asian economic partner of Israel. In 2010, bilateral trade, excluding military sales, stood at US$4.7 billion. Currently, the two nations are negotiating an extensive bilateral free trade pact, focusing on areas such as information technology, biotechnology and agriculture.

History



India's position on the creation of Israel was affected by its own partition
Partition of India
The Partition of India was the partition of British India on the basis of religious demographics that led to the creation of the sovereign states of the Dominion of Pakistan and the Union of India on 14 and 15...

 on religious lines. Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi , pronounced . 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was the pre-eminent political and ideological leader of India during the Indian independence movement...

 opposed the creation of Israel as he was against the creation of countries based on religion. India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

's first Prime Minister
Prime Minister of India
The Prime Minister of India , as addressed to in the Constitution of India — Prime Minister for the Union, is the chief of government, head of the Council of Ministers and the leader of the majority party in parliament...

, Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru , often referred to with the epithet of Panditji, was an Indian statesman who became the first Prime Minister of independent India and became noted for his “neutralist” policies in foreign affairs. He was also one of the principal leaders of India’s independence movement in the...

 supported the creation of Israel.

Various Hindu nationalist organizations, led by the Sangh Parivar
Sangh Parivar
The Sangh Parivar refers to the family of organisations of Hindu nationalists which have been started by members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or are inspired by its ideas. The Sangh Parivar represents the Hindu nationalist movement. It includes the RSS and several dozen smaller...

, supported the Jewish cause and the creation of Israel. Hindu nationalist
Hindu nationalism
Hindu nationalism has been collectively referred to as the expressions of social and political thought, based on the native spiritual and cultural traditions of historical India...

 politician Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
Vināyak Dāmodar Sāvarkar was an Indian freedom fighter, revolutionary and politician. He was the proponent of liberty as the ultimate ideal. Savarkar was a poet, writer and playwright...

 supported Israel when it was created and viewed its creation as "joyous" and condemned India's vote at the UN against Israel. According to Subhash Kapila, the opposition to the establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel during the 1960s and 1970s arose from the Congress Party's
Indian National Congress
The Indian National Congress is one of the two major political parties in India, the other being the Bharatiya Janata Party. It is the largest and one of the oldest democratic political parties in the world. The party's modern liberal platform is largely considered center-left in the Indian...

 desire to appease the Muslims in India as well as to continue the foreign policies of the Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi era. Sushma Swaraj
Sushma Swaraj
Sushma Swaraj is an Indian politician of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Member of Parliament. She is currently the Leader of the Opposition in the 15th Lok Sabha. She is a former union cabinet minister of India and a former Chief Minister of Delhi. Also she served as the Chairperson of the BJP's...

 (BJP leader, and leader of opposition of the 15th Lok Sabha) said that Israel is a reliable partner, and that the current government acknowledged it.

India established official relations with Israel in 1991, although informal ties had existed previously, involving such figures as Moshe Dayan
Moshe Dayan
Moshe Dayan was an Israeli military leader and politician. The fourth Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces , he became a fighting symbol to the world of the new State of Israel...

. Israel provided India with crucial information during its multiple wars.

Diplomatic visits



In 2000 Jaswant Singh
Jaswant Singh
- Career :He is one of the few Indian politicians to have been the Minister for Defence, Finance and External Affairs.He started the new government of Vajpayee, which lasted its full term, as the External Affairs Minister and later on switched his ministry to Finance with Yashwant Sinha...

 became the first Indian foreign minister to visit Israel. Following the visit, the two countries set up a joint anti-terror commission. The foreign ministers of the two countries said intensified cooperation would range from counter terrorism to information technology.

In 2003 Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon is an Israeli statesman and retired general, who served as Israel’s 11th Prime Minister. He has been in a permanent vegetative state since suffering a stroke on 4 January 2006....

 was the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit India. He was welcomed by the center-right wing Bharatiya Janata Party
Bharatiya Janata Party
The Bharatiya Janata Party ,; translation: Indian People's Party) is one of the two major political parties in India, the other being the Indian National Congress. Established in 1980, it is India's second largest political party in terms of representation in the parliament...

 led National Democratic Alliance
National Democratic Alliance (India)
The National Democratic Alliance is a centre-right coalition of political parties in India. At the time of its formation in 1998, it was led by the Bharatiya Janata Party and had thirteen constituent parties. Its convenor is Sharad Yadav, and its honorary chairman is former prime minister Atal...

 coalition government of India. Several newspapers expressed positive views on his visit, and Indian Prime Minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 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
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 circles. Hundreds of supporters of India's various pro-Islamic and communist parties rallied in New Delhi. Nearly 100 Muslims were arrested. Students of Aligarh Muslim University
Aligarh Muslim University
Aligarh Muslim University ,is a residential academic university, established in 1875 by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan as Mohammedan Angelo-Oriental College and later granted the status of Central University by an Act of the Indian Parliament in 1920...

 demanded that India sever ties with Israel and increase ties with Palestine. The Hindi
Hindi
Standard Hindi, or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi, also known as Manak Hindi , High Hindi, Nagari Hindi, and Literary Hindi, is a standardized and sanskritized register of the Hindustani language derived from the Khariboli dialect of Delhi...

-language daily Navbharat Times
Navbharat Times
Navbharat Times aka NBT is the largest circulated as well as largest read Hindi newspaper of Delhi & Mumbai. From the stable of Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd which also publishes other dailies like The Times of India, The Economic Times, Maharashtra Times and also magazines like Filmfare & Femina...

called Sharon "an important friend of India." The Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or National Patriotic Organization), also known the Sangh, is a right-wing Hindu nationalist, paramilitary, volunteer, and allegedly militant organization for Hindu males in India...

 (RSS) condemned the protest against Sharon. RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said: The entire world acknowledges that Israel has effectively and ruthlessly countered terror in the Middle East. Since India and Israel are both fighting a war against terrorism, therefore, we should learn a lesson or two from them. We need to have close cooperation with them in this field. The RSS newspaper Panchjanya described the visit as an opportunity to get closer to Israel and fight terrorism jointly. Sharon expressed satisfaction over his talks with Indian leaders. Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Atal Bihari Vajpayee is an Indian statesman who served as the tenth Prime Minister of India three times – first for a brief term of 13 days in 1996, and then for two terms from 1998 to 2004. After his first brief period as Prime Minister in 1996, Vajpayee headed a coalition government from...

 said the visit would increase ties between India and Israel. Sharon invited Vajpayee to visit Israel. Sharon said that Israelis "regard India to be one of the most important countries in the world," and Vajpayee was sure that Sharon's visit would bring the two states closer together.

In early 2006 Indian government ministers Sharad Pawar
Sharad Pawar
Sharadchandra Govindrao Pawar , popularly known as SAHEB , is the president of the Nationalist Congress Party which he founded in 1999, after separating from the Indian National Congress...

, Kapil Sibal
Kapil Sibal
Kapil Sibal is an Indian politician and lawyer. He is currently the Minister of Communications and Information Technology. He also held the two ministries Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Earth Sciences in the First Manmohan Singh Cabinet...

 and Kamal Nath
Kamal Nath
Kamal Nath is an Indian politician and the current Union Cabinet Minister of Urban Development. He is a member of the 15th Lok Sabha of India. He represents the Chhindwara constituency of Madhya Pradesh and is a member of the Indian National Congress .-Early life:Born in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. He...

 visited Israel. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi
Narendra Damodardas Modi is the current Chief Minister of the Indian state of Gujarat.He was born in a middle class family in Vadnagar; and is a member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh since childhood, as also an active politician since early in life. He holds a masters degree in political...

 has also visited Israel.

Military and strategic ties


India and Israel have increased cooperation in military and intelligence ventures since the establishment of diplomatic relations. The rise of Islamic terrorism in both countries have generated a solid strategic alliance between the two. India recently launched a military satellite for Israel through its Indian Space Research Organization.

In 1997, Israel's President Ezer Weizman
Ezer Weizman
' was the seventh President of Israel, first elected in 1993 and re-elected in 1998. Before the presidency, Weizman was commander of the Israeli Air Force and Minister of Defense.-Biography:...

 became the first head of the Jewish state to visit India. He met with Indian President Shankar Dayal Sharma
Shankar Dayal Sharma
Shankar Dayal Sharma was the ninth President of India serving from 1992 to 1997. Prior to his presidency, Dr Sharma had been the eighth Vice President of India, serving under President Ramaswamy Venkataraman...

, Vice President K.R. Narayanan and Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda. Weizman negotiated the first weapons deal between the two nations, involving the purchase of Barak-1 vertically-launched surface-to-air (SAM) missiles
Surface-to-air missile
A surface-to-air missile or ground-to-air missile is a missile designed to be launched from the ground to destroy aircraft or other missiles...

 from Israel. The Barak-1 has the ability to intercept anti-ship missile
Anti-ship missile
Anti-ship missiles are guided missiles that are designed for use against ships and large boats. Most anti-ship missiles are of the sea-skimming type, many use a combination of inertial guidance and radar homing...

s such as the Harpoon. The purchase of the Barak-1 missiles from Israel by India was a tactical necessity since Pakistan had purchased Lockheed P-3 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft and 27 Harpoon sea-skimming anti-ship missile
Anti-ship missile
Anti-ship missiles are guided missiles that are designed for use against ships and large boats. Most anti-ship missiles are of the sea-skimming type, many use a combination of inertial guidance and radar homing...

s from the United States. Israel was one of the selected few nations, a group that also included France and Russia, that did not condemn India's 1998 Pokhran-II
Pokhran-II
Pokharan-II refers to test explosions of five nuclear devices, three on 11 May and two on 13 May 1998, conducted by India at the Pokhran test range. These nuclear tests resulted in a variety of sanctions against India by a number of major states....

 nuclear tests.

In naval terms, Israel sees great strategic value in an alliance with the Indian Navy
Indian Navy
The Indian Navy is the naval branch of the armed forces of India. The President of India serves as the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy. The Chief of Naval Staff , usually a four-star officer in the rank of Admiral, commands the Navy...

, given India's dominance of South Asian waters. Since the Mediterranean has a dominant Arab and European presence that is hostile to the Israeli Navy in varying degrees, it thus sees the potential of establishing a logistical infrastructure in the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

 with the cooperation of the Indian Navy. In 2000, Israeli submarines reportedly conducted test launches of cruise missile
Cruise missile
A cruise missile is a guided missile that carries an explosive payload and is propelled, usually by a jet engine, towards a land-based or sea-based target. Cruise missiles are designed to deliver a large warhead over long distances with high accuracy...

s capable of carrying nuclear warheads in the waters of the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

, off the Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

n coast.

In 1996, India purchased 32 IAI Searcher
IAI Searcher
|-See also:-References:This article contains material that originally came from the web article by Greg Goebel, which exists in the Public Domain....

 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)
Unmanned aerial vehicle
An unmanned aerial vehicle , also known as a unmanned aircraft system , remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aircraft, is a machine which functions either by the remote control of a navigator or pilot or autonomously, that is, as a self-directing entity...

, Electronic Support Measure sensors and an Air Combat Manoeuvering Instrumentation simulator system from Israel. Since then Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has serviced several large contracts with the Indian Air Force
Indian Air Force
The Indian Air Force is the air arm of the Indian armed forces. Its primary responsibility is to secure Indian airspace and to conduct aerial warfare during a conflict...

 including the upgrading of the IAF's Russian-made MiG-21 ground attack aircraft and there have been further sales of unmanned aerial vehicles as well as laser-guided bomb
Laser-guided bomb
A laser-guided bomb is a guided bomb that uses semi-active laser homing to strike a designated target with greater accuracy than an unguided bomb. LGBs are one of the most common and widespread guided bombs, used by a large number of the world's air forces.- Overview :Laser-guided munitions use a...

s.

A Rediff story in 2003 revealed that the Indian external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing
Research and Analysis Wing
The Research and Analysis Wing is India's external intelligence agency. It was formed in September 1968 after the poor performance of the Intelligence Bureau in the Sino-Indian war of 1962 and the India-Pakistani war of 1965 convinced the then government of India that a specialized, independent...

 (RAW) had clandestine links with the Mossad
Mossad
The Mossad , short for HaMossad leModi'in uleTafkidim Meyuchadim , is the national intelligence agency of Israel....

, Israel's external intelligence agency. When R&AW was founded in 1968 by Rameshwar Nath Kao, he was advised by the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
Indira Gandhi
Indira Priyadarshini Gandhara was an Indian politician who served as the third Prime Minister of India for three consecutive terms and a fourth term . She was assassinated by Sikh extremists...

 to cultivate links with Mossad. This was suggested as a countermeasure to military links between that of a hostile Pakistan and China, as well as with North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

. Israel was also concerned that Pakistani army officers were training Libyans and Iranians in handling Chinese and North Korean military equipment.

Pakistan feared intelligence relations between India and Israel threatened Pakistani security. When young Israeli tourists began visiting the Kashmir valley in the early nineties, Pakistan suspected they were disguised Israeli army officers there to help Indian security forces with counter-terrorism operations. Israeli tourists were attacked, with one slain and another kidnapped. Pressure from the Kashmiri Muslim
Kashmiri Muslims
Kashmiri Muslims are Kashmiri people who are Muslims, currently living in Kashmir or those originally with Kashmiri kinship and descent living in Pakistan. Kashmiris are ethinically and culturally closer to central asian culture than Indian or Pakistani culture with significant influence of the...

 diaspora in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 led to his release.

Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd signed a $2.5 billion deal with India to develop an anti-aircraft system and missiles for the country, in the biggest defense contract in the history of Israel at the time. IAI
IAI
IAI is an acronym for:* The Information Architecture Institute* Institute of Art and Ideas* Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research* International African Institute* International Association for Identification...

 CEO Yitzhak Nissan visited India to finalize the agreement with heads of the defense establishment and the country's president. IAI is developing the Barak-8 missile for the Indian Navy
Indian Navy
The Indian Navy is the naval branch of the armed forces of India. The President of India serves as the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy. The Chief of Naval Staff , usually a four-star officer in the rank of Admiral, commands the Navy...

 and [Air Force
Indian Air Force
The Indian Air Force is the air arm of the Indian armed forces. Its primary responsibility is to secure Indian airspace and to conduct aerial warfare during a conflict...

 which is capable of protecting sea vessels and ground facilities from aircraft and cruise missiles. The missile has a range of over 70 kilometres. The missile will replace the current obsolete Russian system used by India.http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3425400,00.html

On November 10, 2008, Indian military officials visited Israel to discuss joint weapons development projects, additional sales of Israeli equipment to the Indian military, and counter-terrorism strategies. The new round of talks was seen as a significant expansion in the Indian-Israeli strategic partnership.http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/New_heights_India_Israel_step_up_defence_ties/rssarticleshow/3690525.cms

In 2008, Israel surpassed Russia as the largest arms supplier to India.

In December 2009, Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi
Gabi Ashkenazi
Gavriel "Gabi" Ashkenazi , was the Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defence Forces from 2007 to 2011.- Background and early life :...

, Chief of Staff of the Israel Defence Forces, made a historic state visit to India to cement the defense ties between the two countries. He pledged every help to India in fighting terrorism.

In March 2011, defense news reported that India is about to buy 8356 Israeli Spike
Spike (missile)
Spike is a fourth generation man-portable fire-and-forget anti-tank guided missile with tandem-charged HEAT warhead, developed and designed by the Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and in service with a number of nations....

 anti-tank missiles, 321 launchers, 15 training simulators and peripheral equipments, for a $1 billion deal, with Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems

Trade agreements



Bilateral trade, which was at $200 million in 2001, grew to $4.1 billion by 2009, excluding defense trade. This includes manufacturing, satellite launch, agriculture and diamond industries. In 2008, PBEL, a joint venture of two Israeli real estate firms and an Indian developer, announced an investment of $1 billion in real estate projects in India. The plan is to build 10000000 square feet (929,030.4 m²) of world-class residential and business space in three cities. A formal free trade agreement was on progress as of 2010 for a two way agreement that would give Indian industries access to the Israeli high technology sector, and Israel access to Indian domestic market. This is a step ahead of the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) that a Joint Study Group (JSG) set up by the two countries had recommended to improve trade ties. It is estimated that bilateral trade would exceed $12 billion in 5 years with this trade agreement. The current areas that are to be given focus are software, communication, homeland security, science and medicine, bio and agro-technologies, water. India's commerce minister, Jyotiraditya Scindia, visited Israel in February 2010 to discuss a free-trade agreement. He met with Israeli president Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres
GCMG is the ninth President of the State of Israel. Peres served twice as the eighth Prime Minister of Israel and once as Interim Prime Minister, and has been a member of 12 cabinets in a political career spanning over 66 years...

; Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, and representatives of Israel's water technology and high-tech industries. During the visit, Peres offered New Delhi his country’s complete cooperation in the fight against terror saying, “India’s security is as important to Israel as its own”

Science and technology collaboration


India is building closer ties with Israel in the areas of nanotechnology
Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology is the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally, nanotechnology deals with developing materials, devices, or other structures possessing at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometres...

, information technology
Information technology
Information technology is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by a microelectronics-based combination of computing and telecommunications...

, water technology and biotechnology. In 1998, the Indo-Israel Joint Symposium on Human Genome was held in Jerusalem. Subsequently, as a follow up to the symposium, a call for joint research proposals on Human Genome was issued in July 1999 for which 11 proposals were received. Out of these, 6 research projects have been recommended for implementation. Another Indo-Israel status seminar on human Genome Research was organized in India on December 2000. In 1999-2000, Israel and India were involved in 22 joint research projects. Scientists from both countries visited the laboratories of their collaborators and short term exchange visits were organized. The Indo-Israel Joint Committee of scientists was constituted with the DST (Department of Science and Technology)and India as Co-chairmen with representatives from various research organizations in India and the Ministry of Information Technology as members. The 4th Meeting of the joint committee was held in the first week of November 1999 in Jerusalem, attended by a 3 member Indian delegation.

In 2003, Israel's Minister for Science and Technology said that Israel was interested in strengthening science and technology ties with India considering that the latter had a rich base of scientists and technologists and the two countries could benefit by synergising their activities. In 2003, the two countries proposed to double the investment under the ongoing science and technology collaboration to $1 million with $0.5 million from each country in the next biennial period starting October 2004.

In 2004, the Ministry of Science and Technology in India signed an MoU with Israel for jointly funding industrial R&D projects.

In an agreement signed on May 30, 2005, India and Israel pledged to set up a fund to encourage investment and joint industrial ventures. According to the Press Trust of India, there are five priority areas for enhanced collaboration: nanotechnology, biotechnology, water management, alternative energy, and space and aeronautics. India and Israel will each start by contributing US$1 million to provide risk-free grants to entrepreneurs in the two countries. India purchased 50 Israeli drones for $220 million in 2005. India was considering buying the newer Harop drone. India is also in the process of obtaining missile-firing Hermes 450s.

In 2008, Israel and India finalised a three-year plan to introduce crops such as olives, dates and grape
Grape
A grape is a non-climacteric fruit, specifically a berry, that grows on the perennial and deciduous woody vines of the genus Vitis. Grapes can be eaten raw or they can be used for making jam, juice, jelly, vinegar, wine, grape seed extracts, raisins, molasses and grape seed oil. Grapes are also...

s to be introduced and cultivated in the states of Rajasthan
Rajasthan
Rājasthān the land of Rajasthanis, , is the largest state of the Republic of India by area. It is located in the northwest of India. It encompasses most of the area of the large, inhospitable Great Indian Desert , which has an edge paralleling the Sutlej-Indus river valley along its border with...

 and Maharashtra
Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

, to create an agricultural market that meets Western demand for products like olive oil
Olive oil
Olive oil is an oil obtained from the olive , a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. It is commonly used in cooking, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps...

. In addition to the hope that this plan would boost yield and stave off famine, officials presented the project as symbolic.

Space collaboration


Israel's Minister for Science and Technology has expressed interest in collaborating with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) towards utilizing satellites for better management of land and other resources. Israel has also expressed interest in participating in ISRO's Chandrayaan
Chandrayaan
Chandrayaan-1 was India's first unmanned lunar probe. It was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation in October 2008, and operated until August 2009. The mission included a lunar orbiter and an impactor...

 mission of sending an unmanned craft to the moon. A Memorandum of Understanding, signed by ISRO and Israel's space agency, provides for cooperation in multiple areas of space science and technology

Israel's TecSAR
TecSAR
TecSAR, also known as TechSAR, Polaris and Ofek-8, is an Israeli reconnaissance satellite, equipped with synthetic aperture radar developed by Elta Systems...

 radar satellite was launched by India on 22 January 2008. The Indian PSLV launch-vehicle was chosen instead of its own home grown Shavit
Shavit
Shavit is a space launch vehicle produced by Israel to launch small satellites into low earth orbit. It was first launched on September 19, 1988 , making Israel the eighth country to have a space launch capability after the USSR, United States, France, Japan, People's Republic of China, United...

 rocket. This was due to the cost of the PSLV, $15 million compared to the Shavit at $20 million. Tecsar is an Israeli spy satellite, primarily meant to monitor Iran's military activities.

In March 2009, India launched the RISAT-2
RISAT-2
RISAT-2, or Radar Imaging Satellite 2 is an Indian radar reconnaissance satellite that is part of India's RISAT programme. It was successfully launched aboard a PSLV-CA at 01:15 GMT on April 20, 2009 from the Second Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre...

 satellite which is based on the technology employed in Israel's TecSAR. The satellite has the capability to take high resolution images at night and can carry out reconnaissance operations even through a dense cloud cover. Most Indian satellites currently in operation lack these capabilities. The decision to purchase the satellite was taken in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks
2008 Mumbai attacks
The 2008 Mumbai attacks were more than 10 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks across Mumbai, India's largest city, by Islamist attackers who came from Pakistan...

. The 300 kilogram RISAT-2 was successfully launched by India's PSLV rocket in April 2009.

A spokesman of the Indian Space Research Organization said that RISAT-2 is an Indian satellite built with assistance from Israel. India is also developing its own, indigenous version of RISAT-2, capable of taking images through clouds and at night. It was launched in late 2009.

Cultural ties


In April–May 2011, renowned Indian artists from India flew to Israel to participate in a three-week-long cultural festival commemorating 20 years of Indo-Israel diplomatic relations. According to India's ambassador to Israel, Navtej Sarna, "the idea is to bring the entirety of India, showcasing the multi-layered nature of the country, and to mainstream it into the Israeli society...It will lead to greater understanding of each others culture, mindset and impact on all aspects of bilateral relationship.". According to a multi-national study conducted by an international market research company, India was found to be the most pro-Israeli nation.

Tourism


More than 40,000 Israelis, mostly youth, after finishing their military service, visit India annually. Many Israelis visit the Himalayas
Himalayas
The Himalaya Range or Himalaya Mountains Sanskrit: Devanagari: हिमालय, literally "abode of snow"), usually called the Himalayas or Himalaya for short, is a mountain range in Asia, separating the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau...

, Old Manali, Vashisht, Naggar
Naggar
-Geography:Naggar is a settlement in Kullu district, Himachal Pradesh, India, and it falls as a stopover. It was the capital of Kullu Rajas in 1460 AD.-Access:*Distance from Delhi: 589 km*Distance from Shimla: 246 km...

, Kasol
Kasol
Kasol is a village situated on the banks of the Parvati River, on the way between Bhuntar to Manikaran in Himachal Pradesh, India. It is located 42 km east of Kullu at the height of 1640 meters. Kasol is partitioned into Old Kasol and New Kasol on the either side of the bridge.Kasol has...

 and the villages surrounding Dharamsala
Dharamsala
Dharamshala or Dharamsala is a city in northern India. It was formerly known as Bhagsu; it is the winter seat of government of the state of Himachal Pradesh and the district headquarters of the Kangra district....

. Even shops and public transport vehicles in the Kullu Valley, sport Hebrew signs. The number of tourists from India visiting Israel touched 20,000 in the year 2007. By 2010, India replaced Korea as the top source market for Israel from Asia with 41,000 tourist arrivals. Indian tourists were also the biggest spenders in Israel with an average of $1,364, outranking the average tourist expenditure in Israel of $1,091.

In September 2011, Stas Misezhnikov, Tourism Minister of Israel and Union Tourism Minister, Shri Subodh Kant Sahai, met in Delhi and decided to collaborate in the sphere of destination management and promotion, as well as manpower development. Also discussed were an exchange program for teachers and students, and the exchange of information on teaching modules.

Interfaith relations


In August 2007, a delegation of the All India Organisation of Imams and Mosques led by Maulana Jamil Ilyas visited Israel. The Israel visit followed a trip by Jewish rabbis to Delhi for an inter-faith meeting. Maulana Ilyas said
We are coming with the message of peace and goodwill from Indian Muslims who believe in the Indian tradition of resolving issues through dialogue and peaceful means," said Ilyasi, who is the leader of 500,000 imams across India. Our visit to Israel will be historical in terms of developing a dialogue between Judaism and Islam in the Indian subcontinent, where more than 40 percent of the world's Muslim population lives. Interaction with both Palestinian and Jewish sisters and brothers and their religious leadership will lay a solid foundation for future engagement.


Ilyasi claimed Israel treats Muslims better than India does: "I was pleasantly surprised to know that the Sharia (Islamic law) is being supported by the Israeli government; whereas, in India, only local Muslims implement it. That is unique." Ilyasi was apparently referring to the existence of government-sanctioned Islamic courts in the Israeli justice system, which handle marriage, divorce and conversion issues for Muslim Israelis. Similar religious courts exist for Jews and Christians. The visit was organised by the American Jewish Council. The visit was touted as a dialogue of democracies.
The world's first Jewish-Hindu interfaith leadership summit, spearheaded by Hindu organizations in India and Jewish organizations in Israel, as well as the American Jewish Committee
American Jewish Committee
The American Jewish Committee was "founded in 1906 with the aim of rallying all sections of American Jewry to defend the rights of Jews all over the world...

, was held in New Delhi
New Delhi
New Delhi is the capital city of India. It serves as the centre of the Government of India and the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. New Delhi is situated within the metropolis of Delhi. It is one of the nine districts of Delhi Union Territory. The total area of the city is...

 on February 2007. The chief Rabbi of Israel, Yona Metzger
Yona Metzger
Yona Metzger is the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel. His counterpart is Rabbi Shlomo Amar, the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel since their appointments in 2003.-Background:...

, was actively involved in the dialogue, together with Swami Dayanand Saraswati. They stated that "The Jewish and Hindu communities are committed to the ancient traditions of Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 and Hindu dharma
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 respectively, and have both, in their own ways, gone through the painful experiences of persecution, oppression and destruction." Mertzger quoted:

"For thousands of years we have marched on parallel causes and have now built bridges of cooperation between the two religions. Jews have lived in India for over 2000 years and have never been discriminated against. This is something unparalleled in human history".


A second Hindu-Jewish summit took place in Jerusalem in February 2008. There, the Jewish delegation accepted that true Hindus accept One Supreme Being and do not think that the representations used in worship are idols. Despite snowy weather in Jerusalem, the Hindu delegation visited and said their prayers at the Kotel, also known as the Western Wall, one of the holiest sites for Jews.

In June 2009, another Hindu-Jewish interfaith meet was held in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 and Washington. The International Hindu-Jewish Leadership Dialogue was hosted by the American Jewish Committee
American Jewish Committee
The American Jewish Committee was "founded in 1906 with the aim of rallying all sections of American Jewry to defend the rights of Jews all over the world...

, the Hindu American Foundation
Hindu American Foundation
The Hindu American Foundation is an American Hindu human rights group advocating on behalf of the Hindu community in the United States. Dr...

, and the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha and was sponsored by the World Council of Religious Leaders. It began with a lunch and presentations amid saffron-robed swamis, dark-suited rabbis, and Hindu lay leaders wearing lapel pins combining the Israeli, Indian, and American flags.

Bnei Menashe


The Bnei Menashe
Bnei Menashe
The Bnei Menashe are a group of more than 9,000 people from India's North-Eastern border states of Manipur and Mizoram who claim descent from one of the Lost Tribes of Israel. The claim appeared after a Pentecostalist dreamt in 1951 that his people's pre-Christian religion was Judaism and that...

 ("Children of Menasseh", Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 בני מנשה) are a group of more than 8,000 people from India's remote North-Eastern border states
Seven Sister States
The Seven Sister States also called "Paradise Unexplored" is a name given to the contiguous states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland & Tripura in northeastern India. These states cover an area of about 250,000 sq. km. or about 7 percent of India's total area. They...

 of Manipur
Manipur
Manipur is a state in northeastern India, with the city of Imphal as its capital. Manipur is bounded by the Indian states of Nagaland to the north, Mizoram to the south and Assam to the west; it also borders Burma to the east. It covers an area of...

 and Mizoram
Mizoram
Mizoram is one of the Seven Sister States in North Eastern India, sharing borders with the states of Tripura, Assam, Manipur and with the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh and Burma. Mizoram became the 23rd state of India on 20 February 1987. Its capital is Aizawl. Mizoram is located in the...

 who claim descent from one of the Lost Tribes of Israel. On March 31, 2005 Sephardi
Sephardi Jews
Sephardi Jews is a general term referring to the descendants of the Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula before their expulsion in the Spanish Inquisition. It can also refer to those who use a Sephardic style of liturgy or would otherwise define themselves in terms of the Jewish customs and...

 Rabbi Shlomo Amar
Shlomo Amar
Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar has been the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel and the Rishon LeZion since his appointment in 2003. His colleague is Rabbi Yona Metzger, the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel....

, one of Israel's two chief rabbis
Chief Rabbi
Chief Rabbi is a title given in several countries to the recognized religious leader of that country's Jewish community, or to a rabbinic leader appointed by the local secular authorities...

, accepted the Bnei Menashe's claim because of their exemplary devotion to Judaism. His decision was significant because it paved the way for all of the Bnei Menashe to enter Israel under Israel's Law of Return
Law of Return
The Law of Return is Israeli legislation, passed on 5 July 1950, that gives Jews the right of return and settlement in Israel and gain citizenship...

. In the past two decades, some 1,300 Bnei Menashe have moved to Israel. Indian Jews including the Bnei Menashe have never suffered anti-Semitism
Anti-Semitism
Antisemitism is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. According to a 2005 U.S...

in India, but they regard Israel as their homeland and decided to emigrate "on Zionist considerations."

External links