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Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019

Defence, water, agriculture on agenda of Modi’s historic visit to Israel

Narendra Modi will begin his two-day visit to Israel on July 4, the first by an Indian Prime Minister.

india Updated: Jun 30, 2017 13:22 IST
Jayanth Jacob
Jayanth Jacob
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a community reception in Washington on Sunday.  Modi will be on a two-day visit to Israel from July 4, his second high-profile overseas tour in less than 10 days.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a community reception in Washington on Sunday. Modi will be on a two-day visit to Israel from July 4, his second high-profile overseas tour in less than 10 days.(PTI photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to Israel, the first by an Indian PM, is expected to deepen defence ties but water, agriculture and other areas, too, will figure prominently in bilateral talks.

Modi will be in Israel from July 4 to 6, the external affairs ministry said on Wednesday.

“During the visit, the Prime Minister will have detailed discussions with Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu on all matters of mutual interest and will also call on President [Reuven] Rivlin,” the ministry said.

Security remains the centerpiece of relationship though the two countries normalised diplomatic relations only in 1992.

Israel is expected to emerge as the single biggest supplier of weapons in dollar terms in 2015-16.

But both sides say the focus will be on non-security areas.

“The visit of PM Modi will provide an impetus for deeper bilateral engagement in areas of mutual interest,” the ministry said.

The Israeli side holds the visit important. Prime Minister Netanyahu would be at the Indian leader’s side for most of the visit, Israeli ambassador to India Daniel Carmon told HT. Netanyahu in a tweet described “my friend” Modi’s visit as historic.

Water technology and agriculture will be of special interest. Israel, which supports a third of its irrigation needs through desalination plants and reuses 80% of its water supply, is rated the global leader in this area. “Water is at the top of our development agenda,” Carmon said.

The Israeli cabinet on Sunday passed a resolution outlining a strategic partnership with India in a host of non-security areas such as water, agriculture, space, health, investment and even “bringing Bollywood to Israel”.

The Israeli government sanctioned $ 70 million to facilitate the partnership.

The popular Israeli newspaper Haaretz said the visit would make history and described Modi as the leader of an “economy that is growing at a dizzying pace and could one day emerge as the world’s largest”.

The write-up in the English web edition of the daily -- Wake Up, Israel! Indian PM Narendra Modi’s Visit Will Make History -- expressed surprise at people’s indifference but said the government knew how important the visit was, adding economic matters would be at the heart of the talks.

Soon after he arrives in Israel on July 4 afternoon, Modi will head to an agricultural innovation centre. He will end the day with a visit to Yad Vashem, a Holocaust memorial.

The next day is when the real work will begin with a strings of meetings lined up. Modi will also attend an Israeli-Indian diaspora event and meet Moshe Holtzberg, who as two-year-old was rescued by his Indian nanny Sandra Samuel when Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists struck the Chabad House in Mumbai during the 26/11 terror attacks.

Moshe’s father Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, mother Rivkah and six others were killed at the Jewish centre.

The Indian Prime Minister will host a forum for about 30 business leaders and wrap up the visit by paying homage to Indian soldiers who died during World War 1 and lay buried in the port city of Haifa.

Israel was treating Modi’s visit with “unprecedented importance”, Carmon said. Forty to 50 prominent Israelis will be at the airport to greet Modi, an honour reserved for the Pope and the US president.

First Published: Jun 29, 2017 11:09 IST

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