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Modi in Israel: Here is what the Israeli media has to say

LiveMint logoLiveMint 04-07-2017 Livemint

New Delhi: All eyes are on Narendra Modi, as he embarks his maiden visit to Israel-the first ever by any Indian Prime Minister. Israeli media have been paying close attention to the Indian PM’s visit and are reflecting a sense of optimism that the trip will deliver concrete benefits for the relationship between the two countries.

Reports suggest that PM Modi’s visit will initiate a new era, as strong relations with India will open a floodgate of opportunities for Israeli businessmen. Hailing Modi as a superstar, Haaretz.com has addressed him as the “most powerful, popular democratic leader in the world right now”. In a an interview to Israeli media ahead of the visit, Modi reciprocated the enthusiasm on his Facebook page, “As the first Indian Prime Minister to do so, I am greatly looking forward to this unprecedented visit that will bring our two countries and people closer. This year, India and Israel are marking 25 years of our diplomatic relations.”

Here’s what the international newspapers have to say about Modi in Israel:

The Jerusalem Post: The Israel-India collaboration is now on a confident footing to the benefit of both countries in the arena of defence, national security, space programmes, IT and farm technology. Now that Indo-Israel relations have been finally de-hyphenated one hopes that India will henceforth stand firmly in support of Israel in international fora in defence of Israel’s right to survive without fear and constant threats of extermination.

Read more: Narendra Modi in Israel: A timeline of India’s ties with Israel

Haaretz.com: Since 2010, Israel-India trade has run at $4-5 billion a year – adding a billion dollars more if we tack arms onto that. It has not shifted from there, though. Israeli exports to India totaled $2.2 billion in 2015, down from $2.9 billion in 2010. In fact, Israel and India have only enjoyed diplomatic relations since 1992 – and even then they were on a low flame. India used to be heavily influenced by Russia, which led to chilly relations with the United States and Israel, and a general inclination to take the Palestinian side over Israel’s.

Read more: Modi in Israel: A civilizational bond comes of age

The Times of Israel: Notably, Modi decided not to visit the Palestinian Authority, an exceedingly rare move for countries with good ties in the Arab world. New Delhi explains this anomaly as part of a desire to ‘de-hyphenate’ its relationship with Jerusalem and Ramallah. To underline the importance Jerusalem is ascribing to Modi’s visit, Netanyahu cleared his schedule to be at his prominent guest’s side throughout almost the entire time he is in the country. This kind of attention by an Israeli prime minister is usually reserved for American presidents.

Arutz Seva: Hindus and Jews have shared a history which goes back 2500 years. The first group of Jewish sailors, came to India as traders in around 562 BCE and settled in India. Some say it could have even been earlier during King Solomon’s reign (around 957 BCE, when the first Temple was being built). Jews came and settled in India while they were in charge of the flourishing spice trade that existed between India and Europe. Those were the happy times.

Israel Hayom: Columnist Isi Leibler wrote - This week’s historic visit to Israel by India’s prime minister revived memories of my ‎associations with India in the 1980s.‎ At that time, India was a leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, dependent on Arab oil and ‎expatriate income from the Persian Gulf states, and home to 100 million Muslims.‎ I shall never forget an unpleasant meeting I had with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on December ‎‎1981. She claimed that American Jews had turned the U.S. government and media against her ‎because of her policies toward Israel. The discussion became hostile and she came close to ‎becoming anti-Semitic. I reminded her -- to no avail -- that Anglo Jews were among the most ‎fervent supporters of Indian independence. The meeting left me deeply distressed and ‎pessimistic.

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