Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-day tour of Israel that he described as ‘groundbreaking’ will conclude on Thursday. The visit is the first by any Indian prime minister and is being watched closely by local media of both countries. PM Modi and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu gave a joint press statement and have signed seven Memorandums of Understanding, ranging from technology to defence, agriculture, etc. Netanyahu called the relationship between Israel and India “a match made in heaven,” and accepted PM Modi’s invitation to visit India.
While PM Modi visited Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the Israeli media, watching his every move like a hawk, took serious note of his statements from which absence of an opinion on Palestine did not go unnoticed, as well as the euphoria among the masses surrounding his visit.
Here is how Israeli media is reporting PM Narendra Modi’s visit:
The Jerusalem Post:
The front page of the Jerusalem Post on Thursday morning carried a report which said that PM Modi did not mention a two-state solution. The report noted: “Thirty years after India became the first non-Muslim state to recognize the “State of Palestine,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed off on a joint statement on Wednesday that mentioned the Palestinian-Israel diplomatic process, but made no reference to a two state solution.”
“Not only will Modi not be visiting the Palestinian Authority during his 49-hour visit, but the first day and a half of the visit passed without him once publicly referring to the Palestinian issue,” the report said, adding, “After meeting for some four hours with Netanyahu, as well as at times with an expanded group of advisers and ministers, Modi said that India and Israel “live in complex geographies.””
Jerusalem Post carried another report on Moshe Holtzberg, a 26/11 Mumbai hotel siege survivor. PM Modi met the 10-year-old who now lives in Afula with his grandparents. “Moshe told the Indian prime minister that he misses India and would like to return when he grows up as the envoy for Chabad. Modi responded that the country is open to him. Netanyahu invited Moshe to accompany him on his upcoming visit to India,” the paper reported.
Reminding readers about the incident, the paper said, “The attack on the Chabad House by an Islamist terrorist group based in Pakistan was one of a dozen attacks throughout the city from November 26 to November 29, 2008, that killed 164 people and wounded at least 308 others…The Mumbai attacks in 2008 brought Pakistan and India to the brink of war. In late 2012, India secretly hanged the lone surviving member of the Pakistan-based terrorist squad responsible for the rampage.”
An analytical piece in the Haaretz talks about the relationship between the two countries and throws light on how lack of noticeable Zionist zeal on Mahatma Gandhi’s part shaped their ties. “India’s diplomatic choices before and after independence were guided by the principles of anti-imperialism, anti-colonialism and Third World solidarity. Having sought British support through the Balfour Declaration in 1917, the Zionist movement was ‘contaminated’ by colonialism and as such, poles apart from how the Indian national movement saw itself,” the piece says.
“It wasn’t until 1992 that India established full diplomatic relations and an exchange of ambassadors with Israel. External factors (such as end of Cold War, among others) facilitated this about-turn,” the piece adds.
The Times of Israel:
A news report in The Times of Israel said that Modi was greeted in Tel Aviv by a boisterous crowd cheering the Indian PM’s first visit. “On Wednesday, thousands of Indian Israelis gathered in the city to greet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a glitzy, wild welcome for the first premier from their home country to visit the Jewish state,” the report said, adding, “Brightly colored Indian saris mingled with jeans and t-shirts — and not a few kippot and religious headscarves — at Wednesday’s event, which began with several Bollywood dance acts and a concert.”
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