Bilateral Relations

Historical Overview

    During the years since the establishment of diplomatic relations, much progress has been made on the bilateral level. India is increasingly becoming central to Israel’s policy, politically, commercially, in science and culture. Israel is appreciative of the fact thatJews in India were never persecuted.
    Reciprocal visits between Israel and India indicate the growing mutual acquaintance and the strength of the relations. Israel’s President visited India in early 1997, following visits by its Minister of Foreign Affairs and other cabinet ministers. During 1998 and 1999 there have been visits in Israel of Indian cabinet ministers and MPs, Attorney General – Soli Sorabhjee, and the Prime Minister’s principal secretary – Brajesh Mishra. In the summer 2000, India’s Home Minister L.K. Advani and Foreign Minister, Jaswant Singh visited Israel. Close at their heels was the visit of West Bengal’s Chief Minister and CPI(M) leader Jyoti Basu. Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha Najma Heptullah, also visited Israel in 2000.  In December, 2001 a delegation of  the Knesset, led by Prof. Amnon Rubinstein, came to India. Mr. Shimon Peres, Minister for Regional Cooperation visited India twice, in August 2000 and January 2001. Mr. Peres visited India for the third time (January, 2002) as Dy. Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. In the same year (February, 2002) Mr. Tzachi Hanegbi , Minister for Envionment visited India. Pramod Mahajan, Minister for Communication & Parliamentary Affairs, visited Israel in January, 2002. 
    In September 2003 Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon paid a two day state visit to India toghether with Dy.Prime Minister & Minister of Justice Joseph Lapid, Minister of Education Limor Livnat and Minister of Agriculture Israel Katz. During the visit India and Israel signed agreements on Environmental Protection, Cooperation in Combating Illicit Trafficking and Abuse of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, Visa Free Travel for Diplomatic, Official and Service Passport Holders, Cooperation in the fields of Health and Medicine, Cooperation in the field of Education and Cooperation in the field of Culture. The Delhi Statement of Friendship and Cooperation between India and Israel was issued.
    In December 2003 Israel’s Minister of Science & Technology Eliezer Sandberg visited India and signed a MoU with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) for the launch of the Israeli TAUVEX UV telescope on an Indian demonstrator Satellite GSAT-4.  In January 2004 Indian Minister of Commerce & Industry Mr. Arun Jaitly headed the Indian delegation to the Joint Economic Committee, which met in Israel.  In February 2004 Israel’s Dy. Prime Minister & Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom and the President of Israel's Supreme Court Chief Justice Aharon Barak visited India. Vice Prime Minister of Israel and Minister for Industry, Trade, Labour & Communications Ehud Olmert, with a large business delegation, visited India from 6th December to 9th December 2004.
    The Minister for Science and Technology of India Mr. Kapil Sibal visited Israel in July 2005. During his visit a bilateral agreement was signed to pursue technological ventures together via the establishment of a joint industrial research and development fund. Minister of State for Rural Development, Ms. Kumari Selja, paid a visit to Israel in September 2005.
    Minister for Commerce & Industries Mr. Kamal Nath visited Israel in November 2005 during which  a Joint Study Group (JSG) was established in order to boost bilateral trade from US $ 2 billion to US $ 5 billion by 2008. Such an agreement will realize the full potential of India-Israel economic relations in a comprehensive manner.
    Mr. Sharad Pawar, Union Minister for Agriculture, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution visited Israel in November 2005 to represent India at the official memorial ceremony for the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, marking the 10th anniversary of his assassination. During his visit the two sides exchanged ideas regarding the broadening and intensification of bilateral cooperation in agriculture, including in micro irrigation and dairy farming.
    Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak participated in the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in Delhi in November 2005 and lectured on “The Middle East- risks and opportunities for a stable world”. In February 2006 the National Security Advisor of Israel, Maj.Gen.(Retd.) Giora Eiland, visited India and held talks with his Indian counterpart Mr. M.K. Narayanan and other Indian dignitaries. His visit was held in the framework of Indo-Israel National Security Council dialogue.
    A sizable Indian delegation led by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar visited Israel again in May 2006 on the occasion of the Agritech 2006 exhibition. The delegation comprised the chief ministers of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Nagaland and included senior officials from other Indian states. During the visit a three-year Work Plan for Cooperation in the Field of Agriculture was signed by the two governments.
    Israel’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Shlomo Ben Ami, visited India in the month of August 2006 as part of the on-going dialogue with the Indian government and with civil society institutions.
    Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry, Trade and Labour, Hon. Mr. Eliyahu Yishai, with a high level business delegation, paid an official visit in the month of December 2006. During the visit both countries have embarked upon negotiating a Preferential Trade Agreement eventually leading to a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).
    Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Mr. Shivraj Singh Chouhan, led a 16-member delegation to Israel from January 29 – February 1, 2007 at the invitation of Hon’ble Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development of Israel Mr. Shalom Simhon. Mr. Chouhan and the delegation met with Mr. Simhon and visited various institutes at Volcani Centre.  The delegates also visited companies involved in irrigation and agricultural projects as well as  water treatment & management.
    January 29, 2007 marked the 15th anniversary of full diplomatic relations between India and Israel which were established on January 29, 1992. According to the statement issued on this occasion, "the upgrading of relations between Israel and India was a historic milestone in the long journey to achieve normal and prosperous relations between India and Israel, in accordance with the vision of the fathers of the State of Israel".
    The 6th meeting of Indo-Israeli Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism was held on March 13, 2007 at New Delhi. It was preceded by the 3rd round of Dialogue on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation on March 12, 2007. The Israeli delegation was led by Ms Miriam Ziv, Deputy Director General, Strategic Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while the Indian side was headed by Mr K.C Singh, Additional Secretary (International Organizations), Ministry of External Affairs.
    In March 2007, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Transport & Road Safety, Mr. Shaul Mofaz, visited India (19-22 March 2007). During the visit India and Israel explored the ways to enhance  ties in areas such as civil aviation, railways, shipping and road safety programs.
    President Shimon Peres with India's former president Dr A P J Abdul KalamTo mark the 15the anniversary of Indo-Israel bilateral relations a major musical concert by “The Idan Raichel Project”  was organized  in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata during the month of April 2007.The Idan Raichel Group performed in front of thousands of audiences in all three cities. In Delhi, they did a fusion with a local group called “Rajasthan Roots” from the “Jaipur Festival”, which was enthusiastically received by the audiences.
    The 10th round of the Foreign Ministry consultations between India and Israel, were held in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Jerusalem on 15th May 2007. The Israeli delegation was led by the Deputy Director General Amos Nadai, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Indian side headed by Secretary (East) N. Ravi, Ministry of External Affairs India. Comprehensive and positive discussions were held on bilateral, multilateral and regional issues. Mr. N. Ravi also called on the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ms. Tzipi Livni.
    India and Israel have emphasized that   efforts should be made to fully utilize the potential for enhanced economic cooperation between the two countries. Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry of India Mr. Ashwani Kumar headed a high-level FICCI delegation to Israel in the month of August 2007. During the meeting with his Israeli counterpart Mr. Eliyahu Yishai , Israel has put forward a proposal for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India to boost burgeoning economic and bilateral ties. Mr. Kumar also met with Israeli President Shimon Peres during his stay in Israel.
    The Israeli Home Minister Mr. Meir Sheetrit paid a 2 day (Nov. 7-8, 2007) visit to New Delhi to attend the second Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction.During his visit the  minister called on Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Mukherjee, Minister of Home Affairs Mr. Shivraj Patil , Panchayati Raj Minister Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyer and discussed matters of mutual interest and means to strengthen the cooperation between the two countries.
    Israel’s Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development Shalom Simhon paid a 10-day visit to India in January 2008. During his visit the Minister met with Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Dr.Raghuvansh Prasad, Union Minister for Rural Development, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje Scindia, Rajasthan Agriculture Minister Prabhu Lal Saini, Rajasthan Irrigation & Water Minister Prof. Sanwar Lal Jat.
    Other visits arranged by the two governments include those of industrialists and businessmen, exchanges of academic and political delegations, artists, scholars and more. Bilateral consultations between the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs are held annually, alternately in Jerusalem and New Delhi since 1999. Periodical discussions are also held on strategic matters and on counter terrorism. Both countries are committed to enhance ties in the fields of science, culture and economics. It should be noted, that many other visits have taken place without governmental involvement. Israel welcomes this as a healthy trend, which also indicates the growing professional, academic, cultural and economic ties between the two countries.  
    In January 2010, Israel's Minister of Industry, Trade and Labour, Mr. Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, paid an official visit to India. In the same year, two Indian Ministers visited Israel, in February Mr. J. Scindia, Minister of  State for Commerce and Industry, and in March, Mr. Prithaviraj Chavan, Minister of State for Science & Technology. In March 2010, a Parliamentary delegation from India visited Israel, headed by Mr. Naveen Jindal, Member of Parliament. 
    Latest Developments
    Finance Minister Dr Yuval Steinitz with India's Finance Minister Mr Pranab Mukherjee 
    The year 2011 saw an array of high level visits encompassing some of the most important fields of collaboration between the two countries. On the Indian side, Mr. Sachin Pilot, Minister of Communications and Information Technology paid a visit to Israel, while on the Israeli side, four ministers came to India. Mrs. Orit Noked, Minister of Agriculture, visited India in May and met her counterpart Mr. Sharad Pawar. The two agreed to enhance joint agricultural research and established a joint working group in order to finalize a bilateral agricultural action plan for the three years to come. She also visited the Indo-Israel Centre of Excellence for vegetables in Karnal, Haryana, where she was hosted by Chief Minister Hooda who had just returned from an official visit to Israel. Mr. Stas Misezhnikov, Minister of Tourism, visited India in September with a business delegation, promoting Israel as a unique and attractive destination for Indian tourists. He met with his counterpart Mr. Subodh Kant Sahai, and with the Minister of Civil Aviation, Mr. Vayalar Ravi. The Ministers agreed on having follow-up discussions on aviation and establishing a steering committee on tourism. Mr. Yitzhak Aharonovitz, Minister of Internal Security, was in India in November and met with his counterpart the Minister for Home Affairs Mr. P. Chidambaram. In December, Mr. Yuval Steinitz, Minister of Finance arrived in India to attend the Delhi Economic Conclave. During his visit, Minister Steinitz met with his counterpart, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, and discussed ways to strengthen the economic ties between the two countries. The two ministers reiterated the intention of both Governments to finalize the Free Trade Agreement by 2012. Minister Steinitz also met with HRD Minister and Communication & IT Minister, Mr. Kapil Sibal. In addition, the senior Israeli Minister met the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Mr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and National Security Advisor, Mr. Shivshankar Menon. In an interview he gave to Times of India during his visit, Minister Steinitz said: "our relations with India may be second only to the very special relationship we have with the US".
    In a spectacular opening to the celebrations marking 20 years of diplomatic relations between Israel and India, two of Israel’s most renowned singers, Noa & Mira Awad, toured India and performed 6 concerts in Goa and in Delhi in November. The two Israeli stars, one Jewish and one Arab, sang in Hebrew, Arabic and English and shared a strong message of hope and understanding between Jews and Palestinians through common humanity. 
    In January 2012, External Affairs Minister  Mr. S. M. Krishna paid a two-day official visit to Israel where he met with President Shimon Peres, PM Benjamin Netanyahu and FM Avigdor Lieberman.