In first, Indian PM Modi to visit Israel

No date for visit has been set, though some have speculated that it could be in November.

PM Netanyahu and India's Modi (photo credit: PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE)
PM Netanyahu and India's Modi
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Israel, though no firm date has been set, his Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said at a press conference on Sunday, the Indian media reported.
“As far as the prime minister’s visit is concerned, he will travel to Israel. No dates have been finalized. It will take place as per mutually convenient dates,” the Hindustan Times reported.
Swaraj said that she too would visit “Israel, Palestine and Jordan” this year, but also gave no exact dates.
According to the paper, the Indian and Israeli foreign ministries will hold a consultation in July to discuss the Swaraj visit. The paper speculated that a Modi visit could come in November.
The visit of Modi would be the first ever visit to Israel by an Indian prime minister.
Then prime minister Ariel Sharon was the first Israeli prime minister to visit India, doing so in 2003. He was forced, however, to cut his visit short after three days because of a terrorist attack in Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Modi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in September, and said the “sky’s the limit” in Israeli-Indian ties. This was the first meeting between the prime ministers of the two countries since Sharon’s visit. Netanyahu invited him to Israel at the time.
Modi’s election last spring has led to a raising of the profile of Israel-India ties.
He visited Israel in 2006 as the chief minister in the western state of Gujarat.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon visited India in February in a visit that underlined the significant security relationship between the two countries, with India one of the leading markets for Israeli arms and military technology.
There was some speculation in December that Swaraj, who served from 2006 to 2009 as chairwoman of the Indo-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group, would visit Israel in January, but that visit never materialized.
In December The Hindu daily reported that India was considering changing its automatic support for the Palestinians at the UN and abstaining on votes regarding Israel and the Palestinians, rather than voting automatically for the Palestinians.
At her press conference on Sunday, Swaraj, according to the Hindustan Times, said there is no change in India’s support for the Palestinian cause.