Setting aside protocols, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday personally received his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, who arrived on a six-day visit, at Palam airport in New Delhi. Welcoming Netanyahu with a hug, the two world leaders displayed a mutual admiration for each other. The visit comes just six months after PM Modi paid the first-ever visit by an Indian PM to Israel.
Upon receiving Netanyahu, PM Modi tweeted in English and Hebrew, “Welcome to India, my friend PM @netanyahu! Your visit to India is historic and special. It will further cement the close friendship between our nations.”
Meanwhile, Netanyahu who is on his maiden visit to India, tweeted, “My first visit to India, a world power that is strengthening its relations with Israel. I am excited about this historic week that will further strengthen Israel’s international standing.”
The two leaders then attended a ceremony to mark the rechristening of the Teen Murti Chawk in the heart of Delhi as Teen Murti-Haifa Chowk in remembrance of Hyderabad, Jodhpur and Mysore Lancers—represented by the three bronze statues—who were part of the 15 Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade that led a victorious assault on the
fortified city of Haifa on September 23, 1918, during the World War I.
Saluting the Indian soldiers, who laid down their lives during the liberation of Haifa, Modi wrote in the visitors book, “One of these pages was written 100 years ago, in the sacrifice of Indian soldiers at Haifa. The sacrifice commemorated at Teen Murti observes its centenary. Naming this spot as Teen Murti-Haifa Chowk marks this historic occasion. In the presence of the prime minister of Israel, we pay homage to the brave soldiers.”
The Israeli PM also met with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during the day.
Starting from Monday, the two leaders are scheduled to hold comprehensive dialogues on a slew of matters related to defence and security. PM Modi along with hosting a private dinner for his counterpart will also accompany him during his visits to Gujarat and Mumbai.
The Israeli premier would be formally welcomed on Monday morning at Rashtrapati Bhawan, following which, he would lay a wreath at Rajghat. He would then participate in a dialogue at Hyderabad House which will also include a one-on-one discussion with PM Modi. A meeting with President Ram Nath Kovind is also scheduled for the day.
The Israeli PM accompanied by his wife Sara Netanyahu, would be travelling to Agra to see the Taj Mahal on Tuesday and return to Delhi to participate in the Raisina Dialogue. Modi would then accompany Netanyahu to Gujarat on Wednesday where he will be welcomed in the same fashion as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was, with a roadshow in Ahmedabad. The roadshow is said to be an 8-kilometre drive from the airport to the Sabarmati Ashram.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu would arrive in Mumbai on Wednesday in the evening where he will meet the Indian Jewish community. In a tightly packed schedule, Israeli premier in Mumbai would take part in a “power breakfast” with Indian business leaders, a business seminar, attending two memorial services for the victims of the 26/11 attack at the Taj hotel and Nariman House and finally a gala event with Bollywood actors.