PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN hosts the India-Israel Forum yesterday at his official residence in Jerusalem..
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
President Reuven Rivlin is scheduled to leave for India on Sunday in a reciprocal state visit following that of Indian President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Israel in October last year, the first by an Indian head of state.
In the course of his week-long stay in India, Rivlin will meet again with Mukherjee as well as with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is expected to visit Israel some time next year to celebrate the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Rivlin previously met with Modi in March 2015, when both were in Singapore to attend the funeral of prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Just as Mukherjee was the first Indian president to visit Israel, Modi will be the first Indian prime minister to do so.
The two countries have many signed agreements, but in the course of Rivlin’s visit at least 15 memoranda of understanding will be signed, including extended cooperation in the fields of agriculture, trade and energy, as well as in research and development between Israeli and Indian universities.
Some dozen academic representatives are included in Rivlin’s entourage, as well as several government officials and presidents and CEOs of Israel’s leading defense industries and energy, water management and hi-tech companies.
Although Rivlin will ostensibly be in India to join Muklharjee in opening the Agro-Tech conference in Chandigarh, in which Israel will be participating, it is anticipated that his discussions with high-ranking Indian officials will center primarily on security and defense issues and the global fight against terrorism.
Israel is India’s largest supplier of defense equipment.
Rivlin will be the second president of Israel to visit India. The first was Ezer Weizman, who paid an historic visit in 1997, during which he negotiated the initial defense agreements between the two countries. For Weizman, the visit was personally important because he had served as an RAF pilot in India during World War II.
Prior to his election as president, he had served as commander of the air force, head of military intelligence and defense minister. This background made him an ideal person to sign the first of many agreements for the supply of defense equipment to India.
Rivlin’s trip to India will be geographically extensive and will include travel to New Delhi, Mumbai and Agra, where he will visit the Taj Mahal. In Mumbai, he will visit Chabad House and participate in a memorial ceremony for the six victims of terrorism who were murdered there in November 2008, among them Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivkah. Their twoyear- old son, Moshe, was saved by his nanny, Sandra Samuel, who accompanied him to Israel, where he was raised by his maternal grandparents, who live in Afula.
Indian Jews from across the country are expected to meet with Rivlin in Mumbai.
Prior to leaving for India, Rivlin will participate in the State Memorial Service on Mount Herzl for Yitzhak and Leah Rabin on Sunday afternoon, and from there will go to the Knesset to take part in a special plenary session in which Rabin’s career as prime minister and defense minister will be reviewed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and opposition leader Isaac Herzog.