Tuesday, September 9, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Indo-Israel-US axis may emerge
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 8
The visit of Mr Ariel Sharon, the first ever by an Israeli Prime Minister to India, is being viewed as significant not only from the point of view of the relations between the two countries getting stronger but also from the fact of a possible Indo-Israel-US axis emerging in the future.

Experts here do not rule out the possibility of such an axis, which could prove to be very strong, emerging over the next few years specially as all three countries face similar situations at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists, at home and away.

While the Indian community and the strong Jewish community in America have already come close over the past few years, the visit of the Israeli Prime Minister to India would give a further impetus to the relationship between the two countries where the USA could also eventually play a vital role.

Experts point out that over the next few years, India, Israel and the USA may emerge as natural allies in many fields. It will just not be terrorism and strategic partnership but also the fact that all three are democracies and even have the potential for trade among them to grow at an astonishing pace.

They point out that although the diplomatic relations between India and Israel were established in 1992, during the government of P.V. Narasimha Rao, the Kargil conflict with Pakistan played a vital role in the two countries cementing their ties.

Israelís help in providing the Indian Army with the much-needed ammunition for the Howitzer guns (Bofors) and other ammunition proved to be the main reason in the smashing of the Pakistani bunkers established at strategic heights. This eventually allowed the Indian troops to advance up to the heights to push back the infiltrators.

After that, the BJP-led government has not retracted from the path and, in fact, great strides have been taken to reach out and publicly acknowledge the relationship. The Indian approach has been such that even its Arab allies have not been able to protest about the growing relationship.

But what, the experts point out, is going to play a vital role in the emergence of the Indo-Israel-US axis is the strong presence of the Indian and Israeli communities in the USA. This because the Jewish community also has a very strong presence in the US Congress which would eventually also help in the paving of various decisions in Indiaís favour.

The cooperation in this direction has already started with the Jewish community in the US Congress applying pressure on the administration to give its nod in May last for the sale of the Phalcon Airborne Early Warning, Command and Control systems by Israel to India. Further, it was also ensured that an amendment is added to an aid to a Pakistan Bill that now requires the White House to report to Congress on the Pakistani Governmentís prevention of infiltration into India.

Experts now say that the next goal would be to ensure a congressional approval for the Arrow missile system sale to India, which again is of immense importance to New Delhi.

Incidentally, the Indian-American and the Israeli-American communities got together for a major reception in July last on Capitol Hill which was viewed adversely across the border. A clear view emerged that democracies like India, Israel and the USA have to stick together and the events of 9/11 had made it imperative for this axis to emerge.

There are about 5.2 million Jews in the USA and about 1.8 million Indians. But the Indian community has doubled in size in the 1990s, making it the fastest growing immigrant community in the USA.

Experts say that with 37 Jewish community representatives in the Congress, it would be no surprise that in future even Indians make their presence felt politically in the USA. And it would certainly be with the help of the Israeli-American community. 

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