India’s policy shift reflects improvement in ties: Israel envoy

India’s policy shift reflects improvement in ties: Israel envoy

SAM Staff,

Israeli Ambassador to India Daniel Carmon says his government appreciates India’s stand, and a favourable “shift in position” at the UN in the past two years.

Q: 2017 marks 25 years since India and Israel established full diplomatic relations. What should we expect this year?

A: We have gone through a revolutionary process in the past 25 years, in every sphere of ties. Our two countries are so different, but we share similar values and challenges, and have learned to identify how we can best contribute to each other. The work in the defence sector is well known, but it goes way beyond that. In agriculture we have done a great deal, taking India’s strengths and needs and Israel’s development laboratory abilities. Education, food security, technology, health and institutional partnerships are other areas. We also have cooperation on Home Land Security aspects and in counter-terrorism.


Q: How soon do you expect to see visits exchanged by PM Modi to Israel and PM Netanyahu to India, given that the Presidents have already visited?

A: 25 years seems like a symbolic figure, but beyond that I think the time is right for the visits to go beyond just ceremonial ones. In the last 2 years we have seen some very “visible visits”, more than a dozen ministerial exchanges, which have seen many important agreements being signed and implemented. It was hinted that the 2017 will be a year of “high level” visits, and we do look forward to the visit (of PM Modi) to Israel.


Q: If we could turn to cooperation on the multilateral level. Is there more coordination between India and Israel at the United Nations, given votes this year where India has changed its stand more favourably towards Israel?

A: The issue of UN votes has always been part of the bilateral conversation, and we have never shied away from sharing with our friends in India what we think about these resolutions. In the last couple of years we have seen a shift in various votes (by India) which reflects the present improvement in relations. I would not over exaggerate this as a trend, each side has their declared positions and it is not a zero sum game. India says they are committed to the Palestinian cause, to the Arab cause, and they have good relations with Israel that they intend to pursue. We appreciate this stand, and at the UN, we can see it too. We have appreciated very much the changes and the shifts in position [by India] on some resolutions in New York, Geneva and Paris (UNESCO). It is a measured change, compared to the past, and we hope that this change will continue.


Q: Have you asked India for support over the recent UN Security Council resolution that has called for an end to Israeli settlements, and do you expect more such resolutions now?

A: When you talk about any peace process, like the one between us and our Palestinian neighbours, bringing a resolution like this one which imposes a solution to the Security Council, it is unfair to the process. It interferes in this process, and gives the Palestinian side the pretext not to engage on this issue. If we are looking for a genuine solution, including on the 5 key elements or core issues that have to be resolved, then the Security Council cannot pronounce a solution itself, it must wait for talks. The attempt to internationalize the peace process has a negative impact. The Security Council should not impose upon both sides its own parameters of what should be the outcome of negotiations. Instead, the SC should “celebrate” in due course an agreement reached by direct negotiations between the two sides.


Q: But the UN says Israel itself is changing the status quo by building these settlements, and therefore the resolution was needed. Do you feel Israel has been isolated on the issue?

A: Yes, the UN resolution doesn’t favour our position, but on the bilateral side, Israel has good relations with most of the members of the UN. Countries around the world appreciate Israel’s role in fighting challenges from anti-terrorism to developmental technologies. The fact is both Palestinians and Israel will have to compromise at the negotiating table, but that’s only when they come to the table, which the Palestinians have refused to do. The security of our citizens is not negotiable, and we will safeguard our territory, and international pressure like this UNSC resolution will be counter-productive. This also comes after the UNESCO resolution that actually denied the Jewish connection to Jerusalem. In that case I would like to appreciate India’s abstention when something so blatant was placed at the UNESCO. If you take the UNESCO resolution and now the UNSC resolution that seeks to impose a solution, you ignore that there are two sides to this conflict. So, we are grateful to India for not voting against us. While we are not 50% of the population in the region, we are 50% of the solution and our point of view should be taken into consideration by the international community accordingly.


The Hindu