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Indian PM to make historic visit of Israel

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi [File photo]
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi [File photo]

Narendra Modi will become the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel when he lands in Tel Aviv next week for a two day visit which is viewed as having important diplomatic and defence ramifications for both countries.

Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced the "historic visit" in a tweet saying "Next week, the Indian Prime Minister, my friend, @NarendraModi will arrive in Israel, This is an historic visit to Israel."

Netanyahu used the occasion to emphasise Israel's strength commenting : "In the 70 years of the country's existence no Indian Prime Minister has ever visited and this is further expression of Israel's strength". He also spoke about the "upswing" in relations between the two countries and the deepening ties between them.

Read: Israel signs $630m missile deal with Indian navy

Modi's arrival marks a significant shift in relations between the two countries. Historically, India has been a longstanding supporter of the Palestinian cause. India's pro-Palestinian stance began with the countries founder and most famous leader Mahatma Gandhi, who was strongly opposed to the idea of a Jewish national home in Palestine.

It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs

he wrote.

Gandhi, who was deeply affected by the partition of India, opposed the creation of the state of Israel due to his opposition to the idea of nation states based on religion. India's tradition of supporting Palestinian self-determination would continue late into the 20th century and it would vote against Israel frequently at the UN.

While relations between the two countries changed gradually since 1992 following the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the arrival of Modi, who is a right wing Hindu nationalist, alleged to have been the mastermind behind the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat while serving as the chief minister of the state, has produced a much deeper alliance between Tel Aviv and New Delhi.

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