Last month, Benjamin Netanyahu paid an official visit to India, reciprocating a summer 2017 visit to Israel by his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi. Efraim Inbar explains the geopolitical logic that brings the two countries together, and its significance:
Both [countries] have waged major conventional wars against their neighbors and have experienced low‐intensity conflict and terror, as they are both involved in protracted conflicts characterized by complex ethnic and religious components not always well understood by outsiders. Weapons of mass destruction are in the hands of their rivals.
Both regard parts of the Arab world as hubs for Islamic extremism—a common threat. Moreover, India fears the Pakistani nuclear arsenal might ultimately fall into the hands of Islamic radicals, while Israel sees the mix in Iran of Islamic zeal and nuclear ambitions as an existential threat. The offshoots of Islamic State threaten the stability of Egypt and Jordan—Israel’s neighbors—and are increasingly sources of concern in South and Southeast Asia. . . .
Washington is important for [both] Jerusalem and New Delhi. India, a major player in the international system, has [of late] improved its relations with the U.S. Nevertheless, New Delhi’s links with Jerusalem have the potential to smooth over some of the difficulties in dealing with the U.S. Working with Israel fits into Modi’s plan to deepen relations with the U.S. given the U.S.‐Israel friendship. . . .
Gradually, India has overcome its reservations about security cooperation with Israel— not only on counterterrorism, which preceded the establishment of diplomatic relations and has been conducted away from the public eye. . . . [It is] noteworthy that Modi’s trip to Israel was not “balanced” with a visit to the Palestinian Authority, indicating that India has decoupled its relations with Israel from its historical commitment to the Palestinian issue. India has even occasionally refrained from joining the automatic majority against Israel in international forums.