High Drama In Israel Elections Has Kept India In Edge Of Its Seat! How Will The Election Results Affect India-Israel Relationship?

Israel’s elections created a lot of buzz all over the world due to the high drama involved in the elections. Even after the re-elections there is still no clear winner as neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor Military Chief of staff Benny Gantz commanded the majority.

In the re-elections Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party received 32 seats while Benny Gantz’s blue-white party received 33 seats, which is almost like a tie between the two parties. The third general elections might take place within a year.

In the general elections held in April 2019, Netyanhu’s Likud party received 36 out of 120 seats whereas Benny Gantz’s blue-white party falls short of one seat. But, Netyanhu got the mandate to  form the government but it was dissolved as the coalition didn’t last long.

According to the sources, Benjamin Netanyahu has asked Benny Grantz to form   unity government but he refused the offer as Grantz is quite adamant about being the next Prime Minister of Israel.

The Likud party controls 55 of the parliament’s 120 seats and Blue-white party controls 56-57 seats. Both the parties fail to reach the majority mark of 61 seats.

Sources claim that it is not easy for Benjamin Netanyahu to form a government this time as the elections survey described a close contest between the Likud and Blu- white party.

It is also said that Arab voters of Israel helped deprive Netanyahu of victory, as in the previous elections Arab voters saved the left-wing Zionist party Meretz from extinction by pushing it over the 3.25 percent electoral threshold.

Apart from Netanyahu and Grantz, Avigdor Lieberman and Ayelet Shaked also could make a huge difference in the Israel Elections.

Who are these two?

Avigdor Lieberman was an ally who now turned into a rival of Netanyahu. He leads the right wing secular party named Yisrael Beiteinu. He withdrew his coalition from Netanyahu in November  2018 stating that the PM is too weak to handle the militants in Gaza.

Intrestingly, ,Lieberman has said that the only way he will get back with Netanyahu is if he agrees to form an alliance with the Blue- white party and as it is known to all the possibility is already ruled out by Grantz.

Ayelet Shakid is Netanyahu’s former justice minister and is the leader of the Yamina party.

Although Shakid is now a rival of Netanyahu, she has agreed to support the Likud party but it has to be seen whether this development will break the power of Lieberman Netanyahu led coalition.

So basically, everything is up in the air but one thing is sure that both the candidates will definitely fight hard to come into power.

India-Israel relationship

The friendship between Narendra Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu is popular since 2014 as PM Modi was congratulated by Netanyahu after the elections. Netanyahu saw a potential to build strong bond with India which was enthusiastically reciprocated by PM Modi. Both the leaders have often met in various international forums. Netanyahu’s picture with Modi went viral during his election campaign. Huge banners were put up in Israeli buildings.

In July 2017, PM Narendra Modi became the first ever sitting Prime Minister to visit Israel on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Subsequently, Netanyahu too paid a return visit to India on January 2018, in order to strengthen the ties between the countries.

Well, now let’s analyze the Impact of Israel elections on India

There are number of reasons for Modi government to seek diplomatic ties with Israel and Netanyahu has also shown interests in the economic and developmental initiatives of Modi government.

  • Israel is expected to play an important role in modernizing the military and also replacing its Russian defense hardware.
  • India became the largest arms customer of Israel in 2017 with sales worth US$17 million and Israel has been the third largest weapons supplier over the last decade.
  • It is said that Israel is the main supplier of defense to China which in turn has increased India’s security concerns as the supplies can also make its way to Pakistan. Hence, it is important for India to have friendly relations with Israel.
  • The political and security turmoil in the Middle East has also helped India in expanding ties with Israel without much interference from the Arab countries.
  • The recent Russian proposal of forging defense cooperation with Pakistan has become a major security concern for India.
  • Israel can look forward to defense ties with the country in a view of fact that New Delhi is supposed to spend $150 billion to modernize its military by 2027.
  • Israel also needs India’s help in solving the Palestine issue.

Infact, the Likud party is right wing in its beliefs which serves as an advantage to the Modi government whereas the Blue-white is centre-left. Well, not to forget the fact that reports claim that Netanyahu has a tough time in coming back to power in Israel and if Grantz’s party comes into power, there are chances of the strong ties between India and Israel will be broken in no time which will mainly affect the security aspect of the country.

Sharanya Alva