WION in Israel: Modi and Netanyahu, brothers in arms
The courtesy Netanyahu accorded to Narendra Modi was rare and in the past only accorded to Presidents of the United States of America. Photograph: (ANI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel started with bold statements and a very warm reception on the tarmac of Ben Gurion airport.
Narendra Modi acknowledged the death of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s brother’s death 41 years ago in an anti-terror operation (Operation Entebbe) while Netanyahu reaffirmed Israel's commitment -- by mentioning the 2008 terror attack on Mumbai -- to work with India against terror.
Netanyahu also called Modi a great world leader, a phrase he did not use for US President Trump.
The courtesy accorded to Narendra Modi was rare and in the past only accorded to Presidents of the United States of America.
Both Netanyahu and Modi struck the right chords at the airport and political observers in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv said they had not witnessed such a warm welcome in the recent past.
Netanyahu will also accompany Modi to every event on his three-day tour of Israel.
Speaking to WION, Emmanuel Nahshon, Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson said, "His visit is the most important meeting ever. The visit demonstrates that the relationship is out in the open and it will build a foundation for joint future.”
The Israeli establishment was also happy that Prime Minister Modi has decided not to visit Ramallah which is controlled by the Palestinian Liberation Authority. Israel is interpreting that as a sign of the position being taken by the Indian prime minister -- that of not hyphenating India's relationship with Israel with Palestine -- one which is being deeply appreciated.
Speaking to WION, the editor of the Jerusalem Post, Yaakov Catz said the fact that Modi is not trying to do a balancing act is being deeply appreciated by the public.
Narendra Modi had visited Israel in 2006 while he was chief minister of Gujarat, technically making his 2017 visit a second for him.
Sources said the focus of Modi's visit is primarily on agriculture, new technologies and business opportunities.
Unlike Trump, Modi will not tour the old city of Jerusalem nor the Western Wall; it is being said that is because of a lack of time.
A personal touch
Even at the personal level, the Israeli government is being very accommodating of Modi.
Since several members of Modi's team are vegetarian, the King David hotel has had to adjust the menu for the lunch meeting between Modi and Netanyahu.
As a compromise, fish will be served but there will be no meat or poultry.
In order to best serve the Indian delegation, the hotel has secured the services of Israeli-Indian restauranteur and television personality Reena Pushkarna and her team of chefs.
They have been allocated the kitchen for Modi’s visit.
The hotel will also keep Modi's room available for him for two hours after his departure should his plane need to turn back.
And finally, a special room has been allocated for briefings.
Wednesday will be as hectic as Tuesday for Modi, who has a packed schedule.
Modi and Netanyahu will also make a joint statement at the end of the day.