Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-day landmark visit to Israel, which begins on Tuesday, is going to mark several firsts in Indo-Israel friendship. PM Modi is the first-ever Indian premier to visit Tel Aviv and the excitement of the visit is not limited to political corridors.
Ajay Kumar, Newsnation’s senior journalist, witnessed the enthusiasm of the Israeli people for PM Modi’s visit on the streets of Tel Aviv. While several people expressed happiness that an Indian PM is visiting for the first time, others were glad to know that ‘one of the most important leaders of the world – PM Modi’ is coming over.
Indian and Israeli communities have always held close ties over the decades. With a robust Jewish population, India has always been a friend of Israel. And over the last decades, the two communities have only grown closer, with strong cultural exchanges and influences.
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From a political standpoint, the visit is also one of the most crucial ones. Israel has been India’s principal ally in defence expertise and intelligence infrastructure. In his own words, PM Modi described India’s ties with Israel as “special” and said his visit will “lead to further cementing” of bilateral ties and cooperation in key areas including counter-terrorism.
In an interview to the pro-government daily ‘Israel Hayom’, Modi said his visit was “based on the deep centuries-old connection between our two peoples.” “I share the opinion of many of my people, who see Israel as a beacon of technology, as a country that has managed to survive even though the odds were against it.”
Modi’s visit is expected to focus on forging new defence and cyber security ties, two areas in which Israel has sought to portrays itself as a world leader, the daily said. Separately, in an email sent to Israelis who subscribe to his newsletter, Modi said India’s ties with Israel are “special.”
India is the world’s biggest importer of defence equipment, and Israel has become one of its major suppliers. Israeli media have reported that the two countries see more than USD 1 billion in defence deals each year.
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He lauded Israel for transforming itself from being a water-deficient country to a water-surplus country and hailed its other amazing accomplishments.
Asked whether Israel and India facing the same threat of terrorism, Modi said that terrorism is a global menace and two countries are not immune to it either.
“We are in full agreement that elements which perpetrate violence on innocent people should not be allowed to flourish. Cross-border terrorism is a major challenge for us. Divisive forces across our border are trying to disrupt the unity of our nation.
“These troublemakers often misuse religion as a tool to misguide youth in our country and our regions. Terrorism should not be equated with any particular religion. India and Israel could cooperate even more closely and complement each other’s efforts to fight with the menace of terrorism,” he told the Israeli daily.
Not his first visit:
PM Modi may be the first Indian PM to visit Israel but it is not his first visit. PM Modi last visited Israel a decade ago when he was chief minister of Gujarat with a delegation to learn about Israeli agriculture.
“I am happy to return after more than a decade, and I look forward to seeing the developments and advances Israel has made in this time,” Modi told the daily.
PM Modi's schedule for 3-day trip:
6:30 PM: Arrival in Tel Aviv, welcome by Israeli President and Prime Minister
7:30 PM: Dan Farm visit, farm is famous for its revolutionary drip irrigation system
9:30 PM: PM Modi visit Yad Vashem Museum – the Holocaust museum
10:30 PM: State dinner for PM Modi with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu
July 5, Wednesday
1 PM: PM Modi to meet Israeli President
2 PM: PM Modi to hold bilateral talks with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, to be followed by joint press conference
PM Modi will also meet Indian diaspora in Israel. He will also meet Moshe Holtzberg, who was rescued alive in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
July 6, Thursday
2:00 PM: PM Modi will pay homage to Indian Soldiers
7:30 PM: PM Modi will leave for Germany for the G20 Summit
In between PM Modi will also hold a meeting with Israeli CEOs