When Prime Minister Narendra Modi lands in Tel Aviv on Tuesday afternoon, he will be the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel. The three-day visit regarded as historic by both sides marks 25 years of diplomatic relations between India and Israel.
While India recognized Israel's existence in 1950, relations between the two countries remained lukewarm because New Delhi for decades sided with the Palestinians. In an opinion published by Rediff, political analyst Kanchan Gupta, wrote, "The last vestige of 'Nehruvian Consensus', whose dismantling began during the P.V. Narasimha Rao years, will be discarded with this visit."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu along with the top tier of Israel's leadership – known as segel aleph – will receive Modi at the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. It is an honor extended to a few select leaders, such as US presidents and popes.
On Day 1, the two leaders will drive to a flower farm in Mosha Mishmar Hashiva, which has approximately 80,000 square meters of state-of-the-art greenhouses specializing in reproduction of plants, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Modi is staying at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Later today, Modi will visit the Yad Vashem Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, dedicated to the millions of Jews who perished in the Holocaust. He is scheduled to have dinner at Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem.
On this visit, the two prime ministers are expected to hold extensive on a wide range of issues including terrorism, agriculture, trade and defence.
In a joint op-ed published in The Times of India today, Modi and Netanyahu wrote, "India and Israel are walking hand in hand into the future as partners. India is a growing economic powerhouse with a large market and talent pool. Israel is a world leader in high technology and innovation. The combination of India's and Israel's human resources and ingenuity will provide more effective and more affordable solutions for us in diverse fields that are priorities for both our governments: agriculture, water, health, environment, education and security."
Israeli newspaper, The Haaretz, reported that Israeli cabinet had approved "bilateral measures and a budget of 280 million shekels (about $79.6 million or Rs 514 crore) – a bigger sum than Israel has ever set aside for China, Africa and Latin America combined." Trade between the countries has grown from about $200 million in 1992, when they established diplomatic ties, to nearly $4.2 billion last year, according to Israel's Economy Ministry figures, Bloomberg reported.
In a piece published by Livemint, Shalom Salomon Wald, a senior fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute, described the present level of trade between the two countries as "modest," while pointing out that "cultural and academic links between India and Israel are poor and shamefully under-funded on both sides."
Modi will also visit President Reuven Rivlin during the three-day trip. In addition the diplomatic meetings, Modi is expected to address around 4000 Indians living in Israel, and interact with Indian and Israeli CEOs.
Ahead of his visit, Modi said, "I am particularly looking forward to interacting with the large vibrant Indian diaspora in Israel that represents an enduring link between our two peoples."
Modi's trip has generated a lot of excitement in the Indian community settled in Israel, AFP reported today. Elazar Ashtivker, an Indian Jew who runs a restaurant in Ramla, told the newswire, "There's not a single (Indian) household that's not talking about it. This is all people are talking about."
The prime minister will also visit the Indian Cemetery in Haifa to pay respect to the Indian soldiers who died for the liberation of Haifa in 1918. The Indian Express reported that two Indian regiments captured a 1,350 German and Ottoman prisoners during the First World War.
The Israeli prime minister is expected to accompany Modi to his visit to Haifa.
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