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Vishal K Kamble asked: Is Israel a natural ally of India?

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  • S. Samuel C. Rajiv replies: India and Israel are ‘strategic partners’ rather than ‘natural allies’, though the former term is conspicuously absent in official pronouncements, especially that of India. The term one hears more often is that of ‘valuable’ partner. Strategic complementarities bring the two countries together. These include Israel’s world-class arms industry dependent on exports for maintaining its commercial and technological edge, Israeli expertise in such niche technology areas like radars and UAV’s and India's requirements for such surveillance technology. India’s defence modernisation needs coupled with short-comings in its domestic defence industrial base (inability to develop AWACS for instance led it to source Israeli Phalcons), as well as Israel’s willingness to supply sophisticated equipments, are equally pertinent.

    People-to-people contacts are no doubt robust, as evident in growing numbers of tourists visiting either country. Historically, there have been no significant instances of anti-Semitism in India. Some of the threats both the countries face are similar in nature (Islamic extremism), though from different sources. Despite such similarities, however, some significant structural and policy differences do exist. While Israel is a Jewish democratic state, India is a secular democratic republic. Both countries have significant policy differences over issues like the Palestinians and the Iranian nuclear imbroglio.

    For differences between ‘natural ally’ and ‘strategic partner’, refer to the reply by S. Kalyanaraman to a query on the same