In Israel, Modi Announces Direct Flights to India

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday announced the inauguration of a flight service to Tel Aviv from Delhi and Mumbai.

Speaking at an event for the Indian community in Israel, Modi also promised to ease requirements for Israeli military veterans of Indian heritage to receive Overseas Citizen of India and Person of Indian Origin cards, The Times of India reported.

There are an estimated 80,000 Jews of Indian origin in Israel. Modi makes a point of holding large gatherings of Indians when he travels abroad, and has held similar events in New York, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and Australia.

The Jerusalem Post characterized Modi’s outreach as a sign that he views the Indian diaspora as a “valuable diplomatic asset.”

Modi met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin earlier in the day, saying he “welcomed me so warmly, he broke protocol. This is a mark of respect for the people of India.”

Modi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also signed seven agreements in fields including space, agriculture, and water conservation. The two met with Moshe Holtzberg, whose parents were killed in a 2008 terror assault on a Jewish center in Mumbai.

In a statement to the Israeli press, Modi noted the similarity of the threats faced by both Israel and India, saying, “India has suffered firsthand the violence and hatred spread by terror. So has Israel.”

“I am confident that the strength of these links … will hold us in good stead as we forge a partnership for the 21st century,” he added.

The alliance between Israel and India is “a marriage really made in Heaven but we’re implementing it here on Earth,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

The areas of cooperation will benefit not only Israel and India, the prime minister predicted. “We’re talking about also cooperation in third countries and actually working together to better the future of the people of Africa,” he said. “India is present there, Israel is present and coming in to Africa and we think that by joining forces in various areas that I just discussed and others, we can help the people of Africa as well. So this is very, very exciting and it shows you how we are seizing the future.”

[Photo: IsraeliPM / YouTube ]