India in the Middle East


Power to Influence
With Israel being the far more powerful player in the lopsided conflict with Palestine, any arbiter in the peace process should be able to exert some influence over the Israeli government, even if in combination with other powers as part of a multilateral forum. India’s importance to, and therefore leverage in relation to, Israel is demonstrated by the diplomatic effort Netanyahu has put into the relationship, even at a time when Israel’s relative regional power is on the ascendance (opponents like Syria and Hezbollah are consumed fighting proxy wars, the Arab world is divided, and Israel is enjoying a détente with Saudi Arabia as a partner against mutual foe, Iran). This is partly due to economic ties and India providing a market for defense technology; between 40 and 45 percent of Israeli defense exports go to India.
Less obviously, Israeli strategists likely recognize the current dynamics in the Middle East, including U.S. hegemony, will alter in the long term and more attention needs to be given to Asian powers. This, in part, makes India a priority relationship for Netanyahu’s government (though this is balanced with Israel’s more cautious attempts to increase defense trade with China). As rising powers increase their strategic involvement in the Middle East, their intrusion could shake the very bedrock of the current status quo – a status quo that has ensured Israel’s unassailable strategic dominance. Currently, Israel enjoys major influence upon the policymaking of the most powerful player in the Middle East, the United States. Its links with America are long established and multifaceted, including economic, strategic, institutional, and people-to-people ties. Israel enjoys nowhere near such influence amongst any of the rising powers.

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