Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu To Visit India in January
Netanyahu would be the second Israeli prime minister to visit India since 1992.
A little over six months after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of the Jewish state, is set to visit India from Jan. 14. Netanyahu’s visit in 2018 comes almost 15 years after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon came to India in 2003. Sharon’s visit was the first by an Israeli Prime Minister after diplomatic relations were established between the two countries in 1992.
Modi will receive Netanyahu in Gujarat, his home state. He had earlier welcomed Chinese president Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Ahmedabad in the state.
Netanyahu will hold official meetings with top leadership in New Delhi on Jan. 15 and 16, while the detailed program is still being worked out, PTI reported.
A visit to Mumbai is also on the cards for the Israeli leader on Jan. 17. He is likely to make a stop at the Jewish Chabad House, which was a site of the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai. During his visit to Israel, in a special gesture, Modi met Moshe Holtzberg, the child who lost his parents in the attack. Holtzberg was two years old at the time.
Netanyahu may also make a stop at Agra before heading back to Israel on Jan. 18.
He announced the visit during the winter session of Knesset, the Israeli parliament. “In the past year, I have visited all continents besides Antarctica,” he was quoted as saying in the opening session. “And in January, I will make a reciprocal visit to my dear good friend, Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, whose population is a significant part of humanity.”
Modi’s visit to Israel in July was termed “historic” by Netanyahu as it happened 25 years after the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. In the July 5 press conference in Jerusalem, Modi invited Netanyahu to India “at a mutually convenient time.” Netanyahu said the invitation was “a deeply moving moment for me, both in personal, but also in national and international terms.”
Since Modi’s visit to Israel, several measures have been taken to deepen the bilateral ties between the countries, including establishment of a $40 million joint fund to encourage Israeli and Indian business cooperation, agreements permitting and extending incentives to Bollywood filmmakers looking to shoot in Israel, efforts to promote growth in tourism, and a joint government project in the fields of water and agriculture.
During Modi’s visit to Israel, he skipped a trip to Palestine. Many political analysts saw this as a sign of New Delhi’s changing stance on the Israel-Palestine issue. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was invited to New Delhi a few weeks before Modi visited Israel, and came to India on a four-day visit in May this year.