Israel, India sign space agreement

The Israeli and Indian space agencies have signed a landmark cooperation agreement in another sign of the strengthening ties between the two countries.

    Israel's telescopes will be launched on an Indian satellite

    Thursday's agreement means three telescopes built by a Tel Aviv University will be sent into space on an Indian satellite to conduct a series of experiments.

    Israel hopes its Tauvex telescopes will shed light on star formation, the history of galaxies, and the physics of black holes.

    The Indian satellite, known as GSAT-4, is due to launch in 2005.

    Controversy

    However, the deal is sure to raise controversy in India where the country’s estimated 150 million Muslims are fiercely anti-Israel.

    Official diplomatic communication between India and Israel began in 1992, and dealings between the two countries have grown steadily since then.

    Indian Muslims were incensed by
    Ariel Sharon's recent Delhi visit 

    In March 2000, Jaswant Singh became the first Indian foreign minister to visit Israel.

    After this visit India and Israel set up a joint “anti-terror” commission and increased military cooperation. Economic ties have also strengthened considerably in recent years.

    Rights abuser

    However, Indian Muslim groups fiercely condemn Israel as a state founded on the theft of land, and as a serial abuser of Palestinian and Muslim rights.    

    Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has tried to dispel fears in India and the Muslim world about his country’s ties with Tel Aviv.

    He says the moves will not dilute India's relations with Arab states, which supply India with most of its oil.

    There are also more than three million Indian expatriates in Arab countries who send remittances to their families each year, boosting the fragile domestic economy.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Take a tour through East and West Jerusalem to see the difference in quality of life for Israelis and Palestinians.

    Stories from the sex trade

    Stories from the sex trade

    Dutch sex workers, pimps and johns share their stories.

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    As the stigma associated with being childless persists, some elderly women in India risk it all to become mothers.