NEW DELHI: Naor Gilon, 57, who has been named Israel’s new Ambassador to India, has represented his country at the top power tables of the world and has been the foreign policy advisor of three Israeli Prime Ministers who have had significant roles to play in its history.
Gilon, at present, Israel’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, will be taking over from the present envoy, Ron Malka, by September-October. A career diplomat, Gilon has wide and varied experience of over 30 years.
A grandfather of three, he has been his country’s Ambassador to Italy and San Marino. He brings with him a vast experience not just in the Israeli Foreign Service, but also in the field of international consulting.
The diplomat comes from a background that has lived through tumultuous periods of history. His father was born in Germany and is a Holocaust survivor. Gilon graduated from TeI Aviv University with a BA in Political Science. He also holds an MA in International Relations from Corvinus University of Budapest.
Challenges for the new envoy
Gilon, who is expected to take charge by September-October comes to India at a time when bilateral ties between both the countries are steadily growing but it is not without its challenges.
“The government of #Israel just confirmed my nomination as the next ambassador to #India, pending Agrément by the (Indian) government. We still have a few months in beloved the Netherlands. Sad to leave so soon, excited towards the new challenge,” he said in a tweet.
In January 2021, India and Israel completed 29 years of diplomatic ties. India is the largest buyer of military equipment from Israel, which is now the second-largest arms supplier after Russia.
India and Israel have established bilateral consultation mechanisms in all sectors of collaboration, including water, agriculture, counter-terrorism, and defence.
During the peak of the ongoing Ladakh stand-off between India and China, New Delhi reportedly procured SPICE bombs from Israel under $200 million deal.
The Palestine factor
However, in terms of challenges, India and Israel continue to have differences over India’s support for Palestine.
During the recent 11-day fighting between Israel and the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, in May, Israel said while India did have an “understanding” of the confrontation, it did not show public expression of support.
In fact, in an address to the UN Security Council, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York T.S. Tirumurti had stressed “India’s strong support to the just Palestinian cause and its unwavering commitment to the Two-State solution.”
In the corridors of power
One of the main highlights of his long career has been playing the role of foreign policy advisor to three former Prime Ministers of Israel — Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netanyahu — from 1995 to 1997.
All the three with whom he worked have had significant roles to play in the history of Israel.
Prime Minister Rabin was regarded as an extraordinary man. It was under him that the Oslo Accords saw fruition and he thus became a target of the ultranationalists as he wanted to make peace with Palestine. On 4 November 1995, Rabin was shot at by one such ultranationalist, 25-year-old Yigal Amir, with a Beretta 84F semi-automatic pistol.
After Rabin’s untimely and sudden death, Peres was appointed the next Prime Minister of Israel for the second time, from 1995 to 1996.
Prime Minister Peres, who passed away in September 2016, also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 together with Rabin for leading the negotiations on behalf of Israel which culminated in the signing of the Declaration of Principles with the PLO in September 1993.
Prime Minister Netanyahu, who was recently succeeded by his opponent Naftali Bennett, has been the longest-serving Prime Minister in the history of Israel from 2009 till 2021.
Gilon has also worked for both the Israeli Permanent Mission to the UN in New York (1997-2000) and the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C. (2002-2005).
(Edited by Paramita Ghosh)