NEW DELHI: In a startling revelation, the Israeli Ambassador in New Delhi, Mark Sofer, has said his country had assisted India in ”turning around” the situation during the 1999 Kargil war with Pakistan. In an interview with a New Delhi based Outlook weekly magazine, the Ambassador disclosed how defence ties between the two countries got a boost after Kargil when Israel came to India’s rescue at a critical time, helping turn around the situation on the ground.
“I think we proved to the Indian government that you can rely on us, that we have the wherewithal. A friend in need is a friend indeed,” he said. He also disclosed that Indo-Israeli defence ties would go beyond mere selling-buying of arms. “We do have a defence relationship with India, which is no secret. What is secret is what the defence relationship is. And with all due respect, the secret part will remain secret,” he said in the interview to Outlook weekly newsmagazine.
Relations between Israel and India did not exist until 1992 but since then the two countries have developed relationships. India did not recognise the state of Israel until then for two main reasons. Firstly, although India belonged to Non-Aligned Movement, it was an ally of the USSR, and yet followed the general pattern of non-aligned countries with regards to foreign relations.
Secondly, India was a strong supporter of the Palestinian independence.
In 1947 New-Delhi proposed to the Special Committee of the United Nations on Palestine (UNSCOP) the creation of a federal Palestine with autonomous status for the Jewish population. After insurgency broke out in Kashmiri in 1989, the collapse of the USSR and the military escalation with Pakistan, the political framework changed, resulting in the establishment of relations between India and Israel in 1992.
The loss of the Congress in the general elections and the coming of the Bharatiya Janata Party brought the two countries together. Establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel was a step in strengthening relationships with the United States.
The level of collaboration between the two countries was pursued even after Congress returned to power in 2004. Israel is now India’s second largest arms provider after Russia.-SANA