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Narendra Modi to visit Israel on 4 July, first Indian prime minister to do so

Jerusalem: In a big fillip to an already robust bilateral relations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to land in Israel on 4 July on a three-day visit, the first by an Indian prime minister to the Jewish state.

 Narendra Modi to visit Israel on 4 July, first Indian prime minister to do so

File Image of Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and Isarel Prime Minister Netanyahu. PTI

Informed sources in Tel Aviv told PTI that Modi would be arriving in Israel on 4 July and is likely to meet his Israeli counterpart Benjamin the same day in the evening.

Modi's visit is aimed at commemorating 25 years of establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. He would be addressing the Indian community in Israel the following day in Tel Aviv with preparations for the event in full swing amid massive enthusiasm with people expected to attend the event from all over the country.

The Indian community has launched a website in preparation of the much awaited visit of Modi. About 80,000 Indian Jews belonging to four different communities — Bene Israel, Cochinis, Baghdadis and Bnei Menashe — live in Israel.

Modi's ascendance to power in New Delhi generated a lot of euphoria in Israel as he was popular here for maintaining close ties with Tel Aviv during his tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat. He had also visited Israel in October 2006.

One of the things that have been particularly discussed widely in the Israeli media is the "close chemistry" between Modi and Netanyahu. Netanyahu often calls Modi "my friend" and in a recent tweet said that people of his country were eagerly waiting for his "historic" visit.

The two leaders have already met twice on foreign soil on the sidelines of UN related events and are said to be constantly in touch with each other over the phone.

"I am happy that often we can talk easily on telephone, we can discuss everything. It has very rarely happened. In your case it has happened", Modi told Netanyahu during their meeting on the sidelines of Paris Climate summit in November 2015. The Israeli premier had then promptly responded saying, "in your case too".

Modi's visit being limited to Israel in the region, skipping Palestine, has been pointed by some analysts as a "major statement", but the Palestinian Authority (PA) clearly stated that India has the right to build relations with Israel but it should not come at the "expense" of New Delhi's firm support for the Palestinian cause.

President of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas visited India in May. It was his fifth visit to New Delhi in the last 12 years and the third state visit underlining the importance of relations.

Prime Minister Modi's visit has been preceded by several other high-profile visits, including the trip of National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, several senior secretaries and Minister of State for Agriculture SS Ahluwalia-led 11 member multi-party parliamentary delegation. Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba would be on a five-day visit to Israel starting June 11.

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Updated Date: Jun 08, 2017 14:45:49 IST