Planning is in full swing ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic visit to Israel next month, the Hebrew news site Walla reported on Tuesday.
When Modi lands at Ben-Gurion International Airport on July 5, he will become the first sitting Indian prime minister to set foot in Israel.
During his two-day stay, Walla reported, the 66-year-old Modi — who took office in 2014 — will not travel to Ramallah or any other part of the Palestinian Authority, unlike most foreign leaders who visit Israel.
However, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did fly to New Delhi last month and met with Modi. At that meeting, Modi reiterated India’s commitment to the establishment of a “sovereign, independent, united and viable” Palestinians state “coexisting peacefully with Israel.”
Modi’s trip comes as Israel and India mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. As of late, the relationship between the two countries has flourished, particularly in the defense field.
This February, for example, it was reported that Modi had approved a $2.5 billion deal to acquire an Israeli aerial defense system for the Indian military.
Last November, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin traveled to India, just over a year after his Indian counterpart, President Pranab Mukherjee, visited Israel.
In January, Israel’s envoy in New Delhi, Daniel Carmon, expressed appreciation for recent changes in India’s voting patterns at international institutions.
“In the last couple of years, we have seen a shift in various votes (by India) which reflects the present improvement in relations,” Carmon told The Hindu. “I would not over exaggerate this as a trend, each side has their declared positions and it is not a zero-sum game. India says they are committed to the Palestinian cause, to the Arab cause, and they have good relations with Israel that they intend to pursue. We appreciate this stand, and at the UN, we can see it too.”
It is expected that, while in Israel, Modi will officially invite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make a reciprocal visit to India later this year. In 2003, the late Ariel Sharon became the first and so far only sitting Israeli prime minister to travel to India.
(C) 2017 . The Algemeiner Barney Breen-Portnoy