US India Global Review 2018

S. Samuel C. Rajiv | Foreign Policy and is unlikely to budge. After all, India's position on the Iran deal is clear and well known. The Modi government welcomed the nuclear deal when it was negotiated and is wary of possible Israeli (or American) actions that could destabilize the Persian Gulf region further. India is not a member of the United Nations Security Council, nor is it a part of the group of interlocutors that negoti- ated the deal with Iran. The airing of the inadequacies of the deal to his Indian interlocutors would have been an exercise in futility for Netanyahu, simply because New Delhi does not have any power to influence the contours of the agreement. Harping on the deficits of the deal in India would have unnecessarily shifted the focus of his historic visit away from the burgeoning India-Israel partnership. Iran is not the only area of diplomatic disagreement. India's December 2017 vote in the United Nations General Assembly against the Donald Trump administration's decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem highlighted another stark policy difference between the two sides. But Modi and his government have successfully compartmentalized the issues. Most analysts agree that Modi's visit to Israel (during which he did not visit Ramallah) effectively delinked India's robust relationship with Israel from its continuing commitment to the Palestinian cause. In fact, on the last day of Netanyahu's official engagements in Mumbai, reports surfaced of a possible Modi visit to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, as part of a trip that will take him to the United Arab Emirates and Oman in the coming months. By separating the two relationships and not letting Iran or Palestine stand in the way of warm ties with Israel, Modi has removed ideological considera- tions from the relationship and allowed India to be driven by its own economic and strategic priori- ties. Netanyahu's New Delhi visit and Modi's trip to Israel reaffirmed the fact that India and Israel have managed to insulate what many see as a strategic "match made in heaven" from their divergent poli- cy preferences. Unforeseen events on the ground like a war in Gaza or Iran could alter the equation and make India's overt friendship with Israel an issue of intense domestic political contention (as it was during the most recent Gaza war, when the Modi government came under pressure in Parliament for refusing to con- demn Israeli actions). But in the meantime, no such trouble appears on the horizon. Indeed, the energy and warmth that ani- mated both the prime ministerial visits is poised to propel the part- nership to new heights. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Indian counter- part Narendra Modi hug after attend- ing a signing of agreements ceremo- ny at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India January 15, 2018. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi 34 US-INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW APRIL-JUNE 2018

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