An Israeli short-range surface-to-air ballistic missile defending our skies

Diplomatic relations between India and Israel are yet to realise their full potential for geo-political reasons though Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu bridged the gap between the two countries, admitted former Israeli national security advisor (NSA) Uzi Arad.

"In the past, India was sensitive to its Muslim minority to get close to us for fear of annoying them. But that has dissipated to a great deal for very clear explanation. In fact, Israel itself has improved its relations with the Arab/Gulf nations," recalled the former Mossad spy to IANS in an interview in Bangalore recently.

Arad, 72, was the NSA to Netanyahu for three years from 2009-11.

India and Israel began diplomatic relations in 1992 when P V Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister (1991-96), over four decades after they became independent in August 1947 and May 1948.

In 1992, the Israeli prime minister's position transitioned from Yitzhak Shamir to Yitzhak Rabin.

Hinting that India should not be more Catholic than the Pope, Arad said if Arabs and Muslims were comfortable with our relations with Egypt and Jordan, so should India be with the Jewish country.

Arad was in this tech hub to participate in the seventh biennial Synergia Foundation's Security Conclave 2019 as a strategist and fellow of the Institute for National Security in Tel Aviv.

Noting that India's role in international geo-politics was beneficial to his country, the security expert said Israel was in favour of India joining the United Nations Security Council.

A meeting with the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the UN General Assembly in New York in September 1998 led to a liaison between the Indian and Israeli national security council in January 1999, said Arad.

On India's defence preparedness, Arad said the armed forces have a rich military tradition and are brave officers who are proud of their profession and patriotism.

Assailing Pakistan for its alleged support to militancy and terrorism, the former spy wished the Kashmir imbroglio was resolved without resorting to force.

"The Kashmir issue has to be resolved peacefully and not through a war as both the nations are nuclear powered," reiterated Arad, who has a doctorate in international relations from Princeton University, New Jersey, United States of America.

On India-China relationship, Arad said China cannot risk ignoring India's deterrence through its military doctrine.

"India need not consider China as its enemy despite a bitter past when they both fought in 1962. India is considered a power to reckon with the world over," Arad pointed out.

Advocating greater security cooperation between the two countries, Arad said India had a lot to offer as it was never an aggressor in the past despite facing invasions over the centuries.

"India has a lot to offer so do we," said Arad.

Lauding India for helping Israel connect with the Arab world, Arad said when Israel wanted to meet or negotiate with Islamic nations in a third country, Mumbai was the secret venue for them.