Home National Israeli PM Netanyahu arrives at New Delhi; gets ceremonial welcome

Israeli PM Netanyahu arrives at New Delhi; gets ceremonial welcome

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(G.N.S) Dt. 15
New Delhi
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in New Delhi on Sunday for a “historic” six-day trip to India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi received him at the Palam Airport on Sunday afternoon. Mr. Netanyahu, who is on a six-day visit, dubbed India-Israel relationship as a “marriage made in heaven.” Ahead of his departure from Israel, Mr. Netanyahu said, “We are strengthening ties between Israel and this important global power [India].”
Netanyahu’s visit to India is only the second by an Israeli prime minister and comes after a gap of 15 years. The visit also marks 25 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations. His visit assumes even more significance as it comes just over six months after the visit of Modi to Israel, which was the first ever Indian prime ministerial visit to the West Asian nation.
It also comes just days after India voted against Israel at the United Nations on the Jerusalem issue. Netanyahu is expected to focus on economic issues and Palestine is not likely to be the central part of discussions with Modi, Israeli daily Jerusalem Post reported.
Netanyahu will formally be welcomed at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace, on Monday followed by a visit to Rajghat, Mohandas Gandhi’s memorial. During his stay, Netanyahu will also visit Gujarat and Mumbai. On Monday, Netanyahu will meet members at the India-Israeli CEO forum in New Delhi and address a separate business event.
In a sign of growing importance to the ties with Israel, the government on Sunday renamed Delhi’s Teen Murti Chowk as Teen Murti-Haifa Chowk after the Israeli city.
“This serves our security, economic, trade and tourism interests, as well as many other areas. This is a great blessing for the state of Israel,” he said on Sunday.
Mr. Netanyahu was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi on January 15, 2018.
Mr. Netanyahu said he hoped that his visit to India will strengthen cooperation between the two countries in various areas like technology,agriculture and other spheres that are changing the world.
Dubbing the India-Israel relationship as a “marriage made in heaven”, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that even though Israel was “disappointed” by India’s vote at the UN against the Jerusalem issue, one negative vote will not affect the ties.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted a private dinner for his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu and wife Sara at his 7, Lok Kalyan Marg residence in New Delhi on Monday night.
“Delighted to welcome Mrs. Netanyahu and PM @netanyahu to 7, Lok Kalyan Marg. @IsraeliPM,” Mr. Modi tweeted.
The two leaders also attended a ceremony to rename Teen Murti Chowk as Teen Murti-Haifa Chowk, after the Israeli city of Haifa.
Modi and Netanyahu laid a wreath at the iconic Teen Murti war memorial where they were received by army chief General Bipin Rawat and foreign secretary S Jaishankar.
The two leaders paid homage to Indian soldiers who fell in the Battle of Haifa during World War I.
Netanyahu’s entourage includes the largest-ever delegation of Israeli business people, of some 130. According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, these businessmen include senior executives of Aeronautics Defense Systems — an Israeli drone maker currently under criminal investigation by the police’s international crimes division.
At least nine commercial agreements are expected be signed during the visit. These include memoranda of understanding on gas and oil, renewable energy, aviation, industrial research and development, cybersecurity, reciprocal investments, supplementary medicine, space research and joint movie productions, Haaretz said.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday called on Mr. Netanyahu and discussed various aspects of the Indo-Israel ties aimed at strengthening the strategic partnership.
According to a statement by Mr. Netanyahu’s media adviser, the Israeli Prime Minister told Ms. Swaraj that there is a lot of enthusiasm for improving ties not only in the meetings at the level of government and leaders, but also among the people of the two countries.
“We are here in India on a historic visit. It is important for the state of Israel that one of the major powers [India] wants to develop close relations in many areas — economics, trade, security and agriculture,” the statement quoting Mr. Netanyahu as saying during his meeting with Ms. Swaraj.
The two also had a discussion on the work done by the two countries in combating terror.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi received Mr. Netanyahu and his wife Sara at the airport on Sunday, setting aside protocol. Mr. Modi welcomed Mr. Netanyahu with a hug upon his arrival.
“Welcome to India, my friend PM @netanyahu! Your visit to India is historic and special. It will further cement the close friendship between our nations,” Mr. Modi tweeted in English and Hebrew.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu will fly to Agra to view the iconic Taj Mahal.
Netanyahu and Modi will open the Raisina Dialogue, India’s annual geopolitical conference to be attended by people from around the world, including former US nuclear negotiator Wendy Sherman, in Delhi.
The Israeli prime minister will deliver a speech at the Raisina Dialogue on on Tuesday and also call on President Ram Nath Kovind.
He will then leave for Ahmedabad on the morning of 17 January. In Ahmedabad, he will visit the Sabarmati Ashram. Modi and Netanyahu will also visit the Centre of Excellence in Vadrad and inaugurate a Centre of Excellence for date palms in Bhuj via video conferencing.
The Israeli prime minister will have a number of engagements in Mumbai on 18 January. The Israeli embassy had said that Netanyahu will meet with Jewish community leaders and select members of the Indian business community in Mumbai.
The Israeli embassy said he will reach out to Bollywood in an exclusive “Shalom Bollywood” event. In Mumbai, he will also attend a ceremony at the Chabad House, which will be attended by Moshe Holtzberg, the 11-year-old whose parents were killed during the 26/11 terror strike.
Netanyahu will return to Israel on Friday afternoon from Mumbai.
Highlights of the big story:
The two Prime Ministers will hold summit talks at Delhi’s Hyderabad House from noon today and are expected to issue a joint statement later. Mr Netanyahu is accompanied by a 130-member business delegation, the largest ever from Israel, and the two countries hope to deepen ties in trade and defence.
New Delhi and Tel Aviv are expected to sign a number of deals covering various sectors, including defence, oil and gas, renewable energy, amended protocol for airports, cyber security, and co-production of films and documentaries.
PM Modi greeted Mr Netanyahu with a hand shake and a hug at the airport on Sunday. He tweeted a photo and said, “Welcome to India, my friend PM @netanyahu! Your visit to India is historic and special. It will further cement the close friendship between our nations.”
The Prime Minister will accompany Mr Netanyahu, only the second Israeli PM to visit India and the first since Ariel Sharon in 2003, on most of his visits during his six-day tour. The Israeli PM is also expected to visit Mumbai and PM Modi’s home state Gujarat, where the two leaders will hold a joint road show on Wednesday.
“Indian Prime Minister Modi is a close friend of Israel and of mine,” Mr Netyanyahu said in a statement ahead of his visit. “This visit is an opportunity to enhance cooperation with a global economic, security, technology and tourism power.”
The Israeli prime minister said India’s negative vote in the UN will not affect ties. “Yes, naturally we were disappointed, but this visit is a testimony that our relationship is moving on so many fronts forward,” Mr Netanyahu said in an interview to India Today, adding, “I don’t think one vote affects a general trend you can see in many other votes and these visits.”
Last month, India joined 127 other countries to vote in the United Nations General Assembly in favour of a resolution opposing the recent decision of US President Donald Trump to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The resolution was approved with 127-9 at the UN General Assembly.
Over the last two years, India has slowly moved towards de-hyphenating Israel and Palestine, towards which the country had a definite slant in the past. PM Modi’s visit to Israel last year was the first by an Indian Prime Minister.
Just before Mr Netanyahu’s visit, India called off a deal to buy 8,000 anti-tank guided missiles from Israel’s state-owned defence contractor Rafael. The Indian Army and the government are reportedly discussing ways to revive the $500 million order, which was scrapped when the state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation offered to build similar missiles locally.
Israel is a major weapons supplier to India, exporting an average of $1 billion of military equipment each year, but PM Modi wants to end India’s status as the world’s top defence importer as he pitches “Make in India.”

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