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Modi in Israel: PM to discuss agriculture, water management, start-ups with Netanyahu

In photo: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a gathering during the inauguration of Textiles India 2017 trade exhibition in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India June 30, 2017. Photograph: (Reuters)

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Jul 03, 2017, 01.41 PM (IST)

In this week's historic visit to Israel, Indian Prime Minister Narendra is likely to discuss with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu agriculture, water management, innovation and start-ups, ANI reports. 

The July 4-6 visit will mark the first time an Indian Prime Minister has ever visited the West Asian country, despite 25 years of bilateral diplomatic ties, and despite strong cooperation in the defence sector. Back in October of 2015, Pranab Mukherjee became India's first president to visit Israel since diplomatic ties were established in 1992.

Israel's Joint Secretary (West Asia and North Africa) in the Ministry of External Affairs briefed the media in Delhi in advance of Modi's trip, saying Israel has expressed "great willingness" since Modi's tenure to participate in his signature programs like, "Make in India", Clean Ganga", "Smart Cities" and "Digital India".

On the subject of water management, Israel has gone from a water-deficit country to a water-surplus country, even exporting the vital resource to neighbour Jordan, according to the Ambassador to Israel Pavan Kapoor, who remarked on this while speaking to public broadcaster Doordarshan. Kapoor says India has lessons to learn from Israel in this.


Only economic discussions?

Kapoor stated that "Israel has been an important defence supplier to us, and a reliable defence supplier which we appreciate," but that development, not defence, would be the focus of this visit. "When I say development, I mean the area of agriculture, I mean water, I mean science and technology, innovation and start-ups."

But New Delhi will seek to develop further security cooperation when Modi and Netanyahu meet in talks, ANI reports. Israel supports India's bid for permanent membership of the UN Security Council.

Economic discussions to come does not mean there hasn't been considerable exchange already. Kapoor said that bilateral trade stood at $4.16 billion, adding it favoured Israel by $300 million.

Additionally, the Financial Express, citing the Press Trust of India, reports that Modi will discuss cyber security as one of the key areas of cooperation with Netanyahu. 


PM Modi's itinerary: Politicians and Indian diaspora

After landing on Tuesday, July 4, Modi will have his official engagements, including bilateral talks with Netanyahu. The following day he will hold a call with President Rivlin. As he did during his recent visit in the United States, Modi will interact with Israeli business leaders.

He plans to also give a massive rally to the Indian diaspora. According to the Indian Embassy in Tel Aviv, there are about 85,000 Jews of Indian origin settled in Israel.  This apart, there are about 10,000 Indian nationals in Israel, of whom around 9,000 work in the care-giving sector. Of the remaining 1,000, many are students, diamond traders and IT professionals.

The Financial Express reports Modi is expected to address 4,000-5,000 Indians at Tel Aviv Fairgrounds on Wednesday evening. They report that India's Embassy will organise the event, and that buses have been made available to transport people to the event from across the country.

During the course of the visit, Modi will also pay homage to Indian soldiers at the Haifa Indian Cemetery that contains the graves of 49 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War.


"Baby Moshe"

Modi is expected to meet "Baby Moshe", the Jewish survivor of the 26/11 (November 26, 2011) attacks, who is now 11-years-old.

Moshe was only two-years-old in 2008 when his parents were killed by Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists in their attack on Mumbai's Chabad House, then called Nariman House.

Chabad House was one of the targets the terrorists chose during the 26/11 attacks, which claimed the lives of eight Israelis.

Baby Moshe's life was saved by his Indian nanny, Sandra, who managed to flee the scene. Baby Moshe, together with Sandra, moved to Israel.

Sandra was honoured by Israel's government with the title "Righteous Gentile", the highest award they give to people who are not Jewish. In addition, the government granted her an extended stay in the country.

Netanyahu praises Indian-Jewish historical ties

In the Knesset, Israel's parliament, PM Netanyahu spoke about positive ties between Jewish people and India.

"Israelis hold a special place for India in their hearts. More so because India has never seen antisemitism. Secondly, Jews have lived and have been treated well in India for around 2300 years, even as they faced troubles in many parts of the world, including Europe and West Asia in the 20th century."


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