PM Modi all praise for '70-year-old' Israel-India bond

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Thursday addressed the Indian diaspora in Israel on the second day of his historic visit, asserting that their 70-year-old relationship is dependable, free and strong.

"In 70 years, for the first time, the visit of an Indian Prime Minister to Israel is in itself a moment of celebration and a moment of introspection too... We have met after a long time. It may have been only 25 years since we established diplomatic relations, but our ties go back hundreds of years. Our ties are a sign of our friendship and dependability. Our festivals have similarities. Last night we were chatting late after dinner. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave me a photograph of Indian soldiers from World War II who helped free Jerusalem," Prime Minister Modi told the Indian community at Tel Aviv Convention Centre.

Praising the Jewish population in India, Prime Minister Modi stated that Jews have contributed not only in the armed forces, but also in other fields.

"Not just in the military, people from Israel have excelled and scaled new heights in literature and film. People from the Jewish community are few in India, but their presence has been one of pride. I remember India's financial capital Mumbai has had a Jewish mayor. In 1938, Elijah Moses was the mayor of the city when it was known as Bombay. Mayors of various Israeli cities have also joined us today. Their love for India has drawn them here, I thank them. Jewish community has enriched India with their contribution in various fields. The Jews have done everything on their own merit. Indian Jews have contributed to the agricultural progress here [Israel]. When the first prime minister of Israel saw the dream of making a desert green, our Indian brothers and sisters toiled day and night to realise the vision of 'may the desert bloom'. Besides agriculture, people of Indian origin have left their mark in the healthcare sector," says Indian Prime Minister Modi.

Mentioning about the Delhi-Mumbai-Tel Aviv air route, Indian Prime Minister Modi invited Israelis to visit India.

"Both the countries know how to emerge from difficult situations. I have full faith that the country that treats guests like God will only inspire you to take great experience back home. That's why I'm telling the youth to visit India more often. We will also start a Delhi-Mumbai-Tel Aviv aviation connection to ensure that the link between the two countries progresses at an even faster pace. I also came to know that Indians in Israel are facing many difficulties in getting OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) and PIO (Persons of Indian Origin) cards. The relations which are bound by heart are not dependent on papers or cards. It is not possible that India will say deny OCI cards. I assure that those Indians who did compulsory army service will also get OCI cards," Prime Minister Modi.

While speaking to the Indian crowd, Prime Minister Modi also announced new flights to Israel from India, saying that the students are the innovation bridge between the two countries.

"My young friends, you are the technology and innovation bridge between India and Israel. Both I and Benjamin Netanyahu are convinced that the backbone of our ties will be science, innovation and research. There are about 600 Indian students in Israel. Some are present here today. The skills you are learning here will be useful to India in the times to come," Prime Minister Modi said.

Explaining about the administrative approach on Goods and Service Tax (GST) launched in India, Prime Minister Modi stated that he believes in "reform, perform, transform."

"My government's motto is reform, perform, transform. I call GST the 'Good and Simple Tax', just as Sardar Patel brought several princely states together to form modern India, GST was a manifestation of India's Economic unity. There were over 500 laws before this and they created all sorts of problems and complexities that were massive. With one nation, one law rule, the nation would progress at a much faster clip. This is one of the biggest reforms ever. We brought reforms in the defence sector, allowing foreign direct investment in the sector, so that this sector doesn't stay behind anymore. In 2022, we complete 75 years of independence, we will ensure that the poor in the country have a house of their own when India completes 75 years of independence," he added.

There were colourful performances of dance and music as the crowd awaited the arrival of the two leaders. Dancers waved Indian and Israelis flags and the audience was in high spirits, frequently cheering and chanting Israel and India.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Modi met the Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

After the meeting, Prime Minister Modi met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where they issued a joint statement together that resulted in seven agreements between the two nations.

Prime Minister Modi had also met Baby Moshe, the 26/11 survivor who lost both of his parents in an attack at the Nariman House in 2008.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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