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New chapter in India-Israel relations: Jaishankar to cement post-Netanyahu ties

While the stopover to Dubai is part of the constant engagement with a close ally, foreign minister S Jaishankar’s trip to Israel is part of cementing ties with Tel Aviv post Netanyahu era.
As PM Modi has restricted travel due to Covid pandemic and domestic commitments, it has been left to Jaishankar and Doval to connect with close allies on a constant basis.
Published on Oct 16, 2021 10:59 AM IST
ByShishir Gupta, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

With an eye towards cementing diplomatic and political ties in post-Benjamin Netanyahu era, external affairs minister S Jaishankar is visiting Israel for three days via another strategic ally, the United Arab Emirates. EAM Jaishankar is reaching Dubai on Sunday and will leave for October 19-21 three-day Israel trip. The security relationship with both UAE and Israel are handled by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi has restricted travel due to Covid pandemic and domestic commitments, it has been left to Jaishankar and Doval to connect with close allies on a constant basis. The focus of Indian diplomacy at present is also to directly connect with countries, which have been missed by the previous regimes like Mexico, Greece, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan apart from small nation states.

While EAM Jaishankar is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Naftali Bennet, alternate PM and foreign minister Yair Lapid in Israel, the basic purpose of the trip is to engage the new coalition government and provide a fresh impetus to bilateral ties with Tel Aviv. “Israel and UAE are one of India’s closest allies like Japan and Singapore apart from big partners like US and Russia. With the new government now firmly ensconced in Israel, it is time that both close partners exchanged notes on global issues like Afghanistan, Middle East, Indo-Pacific and terrorism,” said a former foreign secretary. India has very close security relationship with Israel that ranges from top-of-the-line drones, loitering ammunition, radars, state-of-the-art missiles and border sensors.

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It is understood that EAM Jaishankar will be halting in Dubai for a day to meet the leadership over regional environment, including situation in Afghanistan and central Asia. The UAE is home to nearly four million Indian diaspora and has forged diplomatic ties with Israel under the Abraham Accord signed on August 13, 2020. This was the first normalisation of relations between an Arab country and Israel since that of Jordan in 1994. India wholeheartedly supported the normalisation of the ties between UAE and Israel.

Afghanistan and on-going incidents of terror attacks on minorities will be a major point of discussion with EAM Jaishankar also sharing the perspective of Central Asian Republics, whom he visited last week. It is understood that Afghanistan is headed for a food crisis with drought expected in the region including Iran and Central Asia in the coming months.

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