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Israel Ties Reflect India's Realist Foreign Policy Consensus

Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012

Indian External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna’s visit to Israel earlier this month produced a number of significant outcomes, notably proposals for the opening of a new Israeli consulate in Bangalore and a bilateral free trade agreement, as well as Israeli support for a permanent Indian seat on the U.N. Security Council. More importantly, the trip highlighted the degree to which solidifying relations with Israel, and in particular maintaining robust defense ties, has become a bipartisan foreign policy consensus in India.

India recognized the Jewish state in 1950 but eschewed the establishment of full diplomatic relations during the Cold War, in part because India, which preferred nonalignment, was reluctant to engage with a formal ally of the U.S. In parallel, India’s vigorous support for the Palestinian cause, which included voting in favor of the 1975 General Assembly resolution that equated Zionism with racism, at times verged on anti-Israel hysteria. However, the most important factor in India’s diplomatic alienation of Israel was Pakistan. To counter the influence of Pakistan’s Israel-bashing on other Islamic states as well as on India’s own Muslim population, India often tried to outdo Pakistan in opposing Israel. ...

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