In Looking to the West, India Is Increasingly Looking toward Israel

Jan. 20 2023

Two countries with vast differences but also many important similarities, India and Israel have been growing closer since the beginning of the century. Jonathan Spyer explains how New Delhi and Jerusalem are at present moving from a relationship based on military and civilian trade to a broader strategic alliance, which will ultimately benefit the U.S. as well:

India is now the largest consumer of Israeli military equipment—exports to India constitute 46 percent of Israel’s total arms exports. Israel, meanwhile, is the second-largest supplier of military equipment to India after Russia, New Delhi’s traditional arms provider.

Burgeoning India-Israel relations are not limited to defense spending. In agriculture and water management, Indian authorities have partnered with Mashav, Israel’s international development organization, to [find] methods to cope with an emergent water crisis. The purpose is to create structures for the rapid transfer of Israeli know-how in such crucial fields as drip irrigation, protected cultivation, and “fertigation” (the injection of fertilizers and water-soluble products into an irrigation system) to Indian farmers. The acquisition by the Adani group of Haifa port in 2022 is perhaps the most significant recent development in the commercial field.

India and Israel face a common challenge with other Western-aligned states as the U.S., the leader of the democratic world, is recalibrating and reducing its external commitments. . . . Indeed, it is within the overarching picture of India’s strategic transition from a non-aligned country to a U.S. ally, in the face of Chinese ambitions, that India’s improved relations with Israel [should] be seen.

Indian participation alongside Israel, for example, in the biennial Blue Flag air exercise in 2021 alongside U.S. and other Western air forces, is both an indication of the growing strategic relationship between Israel and India and of India’s broader strategy of “looking West,” and increasing cooperation with the U.S.

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Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: India, Israel-India relations, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy

 

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy