A potential display of political pragmatic victory is well expected as Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu meets Indian PM Narendra Modi, that too in New Delhi. Called as ‘a marriage made in heaven’, will India-Israel relations de-hyphenate India’s decades-old stand on Palestine? Or will it weigh off Israel’s inclinations towards China?
Netanyahu is in India and this trip is considered to be a sibling to Modi’s Israel visit back on July 2017 – painting increasing closeness between India and Israel and their leaders, at least in front of cameras, illustrating a tectonic diplomatic shift. But, the Palestine issue hasn’t yet disappeared, Iran is still a stumbling block, Israel-Chinese relations are still silently unwelcomed. Now that can’t be picked up from the flowery compliments that Modi and Netanyahu are throwing at each other – it must rather be deliberately and reasonably calculated. Let us put some efforts and make these speculations.
Modi’s visit to Israel was considered to be highly-momentous, after all he became the first Indian PM to land on Israeli soil. “Israel rolls out red carpet for Modi”, “A historic visit for never before relations between India and Israel” hit the bigotry headlines. Media played its role in canvasing a diplomatic relation blitzkrieg with innumerable videos of Israelis welcoming Modi, what Indian PM wore to what he ate; how he was received by the Israeli establishment to the hugfest between the two leaders. “Shalom,” said Modi, “Namaste,” said Netanyahu. A bromantic stroll on the Olga beach, dipping feet in the Mediterranean lagoon, eating meals specially prepared for Modi; all these but display the celebration and victory of better bilateral relations.
But that stroll on the beach didn’t stop India from pressing the ‘Yes’ button in the UN General Assembly, criticizing Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, affirming its unwavering support for the Palestinian cause, as it has for nearly seven decades. Netanyahu’s trip to India will perhaps not stop Modi to take a flight to Palestine in not-so-far future. It did not stop New Delhi from referring to Mahmoud Abbas as ‘President of Palestine,’ not of the Palestinian Authority. And it certainly did not stop India from hauling over the Iranian Chabahar port while literally screaming ‘Iran for India, India for Iran’. Certainly, India has very little interest in Israel’s visceral antagonism towards Iran. And then the good relations with Arab countries too. It is but a two-way road – after all, Israel too actively engages with China, had welcomed the One Belt One Road by China; and had ignored India’s intense concerns over China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean.
However, India-Israel relations haven’t turned cloudy sentimentally. Israel was okay with India’s take at UNGA, India was okay about the Israel-China affair. So in a way, calling Indo-Israeli relations as a “marriage made in heaven” is truly smooth-tongued flattering. Although it seems more of an ‘open marriage’ where affairs are allowed, no hard feelings. And about the bonhomie, bromance and public display of affection between Modi and Netanyahu, well they deserve the highest Academy Awards for their incredible performances. It can and will be seen during the six-day getaway in India and it will be seen many more times in days to come. And with all the openness, mutual understanding and maturity, it is sure a “marriage made in heaven”.