India's Narendra Modi Visits Israel, Sees Israeli Desalination Tech at Beach With Netanyahu

Thousands of Indians turn out to see Modi ■ PM held meetings with Netanyahu and Rivlin ■ India's Modi first stop in Israel: A flower nursery ■ Lays wreath at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stand in the Mediterranean Sea on their visit to a mobile desalination unit on July 6, 2017.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stand in the Mediterranean Sea on their visit to a mobile desalination unit on July 6, 2017. GPO

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi left Israel after a historic three-day trip. In the 48-hour visit, Modi met with Israel's political leadership and signed a series of technology, water and agriculture agreements between the two countries. 

Modi's visit is the first by an Indian leader. A Hindu nationalist, conservative and believer in free markets, he enjoys unprecedented popularity at home, and many say he is all but destined to be reelected in 2019.

Modi and Netanyahu visit a mobile desalination unit IsraeliPM / YouTube

>> The secret of Israel's water miracle and how it can help a thirsty world >>

Live updates:

6:21 P.M. Irked by snub on Israel visit, Palestinians call on Modi to be more like Gandhi

5:14 P.M. Narendra Modi leaves Israel, drawing his historic three-day visit to a close. Modi wil be heading to Germany to addend the G20 summit.

In a widely shared Facebook post featuring an image signed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Modi thanks his Israeli counterpart for the "signed photo, kind words, amazing hospitality & passion towards #IndiaIsraelFriendship."

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drive in mobile desalination unit along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. July 6, 2017.
GPO

1:02 P.M. Narendra Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu visit a mobile desalination unit on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, making for some eye-catching images of the two world leaders as they frolic in the surf. 

12:15 P.M. As India and Israel embrace, talk about a 'Zionist-Hindu' conspiracy spikes in Pakistan

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during a reception for the Indian community in Israel in Tel Aviv on July 5, 2017.
AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS

Even though conspiracy theories and anti-Semitism are ubiquitous in Pakistan, Narendra Modi's visit to Israel has led them to alarming new heights (Kunwar Khuldune Shahid)

10.30 A.M. On his final day, Narendra Modi will head to an Israeli desalination plant, as well as attending an innovation conference in Tel Aviv

2:50 A.M. Modi brings the house down at raucus Tel Aviv event

Complete with strobe lights and huge screens, the hanger-like space resembled a rock concert, as Bollywood singer Sukhwinder Singh performed energetically and warmed the crowd up with rhythmic calls of “India and Israel!” between numbers. Dozens of posters hung on the walls (most in English and a few in Hebrew) welcoming Modi, calling him “The Creator of Modern India,” and carrying logos for the “25 years of growing partnership” between India and Israel.

Modi in Israel, Day 2: All the updates

9:41 P.M. Modi tells Indian community he's happy to be in Israel - in Hindi

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a crowd of thousands comprised of members of Israel's Indian community in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night.

Speaking in Hindi, the popular Indian prime minister spoke of his warm relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also addressed the audience, and deemed his visit to Israel as a happy moment.

9:11 P.M. Netanyahu asks Modi about probe into 2012 attack on Israeli embassy in Delhi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brought up the investigation of a 2012 attack on the Israeli embassy in New Delhi during his meeting with visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday. According to officials in the Prime Minister's Bureau, Netanyahu asked his Indian counterpart whether any progress was made.

A joint statement released at the end of the meetings also referred to the issue. "The two prime ministers emphasized that there can't be any justification whatsoever to terrorist acts," it said. "The leaders stressed that harsh measures must be taken against terrorists, terror organizations and whoever supports, encourages, finances or shelters them."

According to the statement, Netanyahu and Modi agreed that action must be taken to prevent terror groups from obtaining weapons of mass destruction. The two also agreed to cooperate on promoting an international convention on the war on terror. Read full report

8:30 P.M. India and Israel's Largest aerospace company to broaden cooperation

Israel Aerospace Industries will broaden its cooperation with India, making the announcement Wednesday during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Israel. 

In looking to reorient Israel’s economy toward Asia, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hopes that many exports to India will grow. He has set the goal of increasing exports to the country by 25 percent in the next four years. Read full report

7:00 P.M. Indian and Israeli industrialists press leaders for free-trade deal

Trade between Israel and India is rather small, amounting in 2016 to less than $2 billion (excluding diamonds). Israeli and Indian business leaders would like it to grow and are pressing their leaders to reach a free-trade agreement to boost that figure substantially.

Shraga Brosh, the president of the Israel Manufacturers Association, and Pankaj Patel, president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, an association of some 250,000 businesses in India, according to its website, will be inaugurating a forum of Israel-India CEOs on Thursday with the purpose of increasing the countries' bilateral trade tenfold, to around $20 billion a year.

The forum has actually already developed recommendations, which include the signing of a free-trade agreement between the two countries, agreements on protecting foreign investments and reexamining regulations that limit trade relations between the two countries.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) stands next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as he hugs Moshe Holtzberg, whose parents were killed during the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai at Nariman House, home to the Mumbai chapter of the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish movement, in Jerusalem July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Atef Safadi/Pool
POOL/REUTERS

The forum also proposes relaxing visa requirements for workers and increasing the number of flights between Israel and India. The recommendations also include proposals to unify quality standards and to boost tourism between the countries in both directions. Read full report

5:00 P.M. India's Modi meets Israeli boy who survived terror attack on Mumbai Jewish center

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi found time between diplomatic appointments to meet one special little Israeli boy in Jerusalem Wednesday: Moshe Holtzberg, 10, survived a terrorist attack on a Jewish center in Mumbai in 2008 in which both his parents and six others were killed.

Moshe, then 2 years old, was saved by his Indian nanny Sandra Samuel, who hid in a room after the two gunmen stormed the house. She later managed to escape with the child. 

Samuel, now 53, was granted honorary citizenship by Israel. She lives in Jerusalem and visits Moshe every Sunday at his grandparents' home in Afula, about 95 kilometers away.

Modi invited a now bespectacled Moshe with a shy smile and his grandparents Rabbi Shimon and Yehudit Rosenberg to visit India and Mumbai.

"Anytime you can come to India, anytime you can go," Modi told Moshe, holding him close. Read full report

India's Modi meets with President Rivlin in Jerusalem, July 5, 2017.
President's Office

3:00 P.M. Israel, India sign tech, water and agriculture deals

Israel and India have signed a series of agreements to cooperate in the fields of technology, water and agriculture.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the cooperation marks a "match made in heaven" as he stood alongside the visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The agreements are the centerpiece of Modi's three-day visit to celebrate 25 years of diplomatic relations and strengthen his country's already close ties with the Jewish state.

1:30 P.M. In their meeting, President Reuven Rivlin told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that Israel "hopes to deepen its cooperation with India." The president said Modi is a leader "who pays attention to the needs and opportunities of his people," while praising him as "one of the greatest world leaders today."

11:30 A.M. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets with President Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

On the eve of his visit, Modi voiced support for the two-state solution, saying that "a final agreement must recognize the feelings and demands of all sides involved."

Modi in Israel, Day 1: All the updates

12:34 A.M. Analysis: The touchy issue left off the agenda of Modi's visit to Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in a very good mood and even appeared excited. “This is a historic day,” he told his Indian counterpart. Unlike many instances in the past, this time Netanyahu wasn’t exaggerating. Prime Minister Narendra Modi severed the permanent connection that India had made between promoting its ties with Israel and its position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He even elegantly skipped a visit to Ramallah. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) greets his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi (R) during an official ceremoney at Ben-Gurion International airport near Tel Aviv on July 4, 2017. 
Modi is the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel, the result of growing ties that have led to billions of dollars in defence deals. / AFP PHOTO / Jack GUEZ
JACK GUEZ/AFP

A diplomatic-security issue that is expected to come up during the visit is cooperation in the fight against terrorism. When Modi talks about terrorism, he means Jihadist groups identified with Al-Qaida and the Taliban which commit terror attacks against India. The Indians are glad to accept any Israeli assistance in this area. But there is terror that the Indians are not anxious to discuss. Read the full article

7:45 P.M. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Theodor Herzl's grave

6:30 P.M. Modi visits Yad Vashem, the official Israeli Holocaust memorial center.

India's prime minister receives flowers while on a visit in Israel
Twitter, Indian PM Office

During the visit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid a wreath and rekindled the eternal flame at the memorial.

5:00 P.M. Modi's first stop in Israel: A flower nursery. Here's why

A new fast-growing Israeli Chrysanthemum flower is named "Modi" in honor of the Indian prime minister.

4:50 P.M. Modi seeks 'strong and resilient partnership with Israel'

"My visit marks a path-breaking journey of engagement," Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the airport. "As we march together, a strong and resilient partnership with Israel will be my intent and focus.

"Alongside building a partnership for shared economic prosperity, we are also cooperating to secure our societies against common threats such as terrorism," he said.

4:20 P.M. Netanyahu greets Modi on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport.

Welcoming Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hails "historic" visit by Indian prime minister. 

3:46 P.M. Narendra Modi lands at Ben-Gurion International Airport

2:45 P.M. Netanyahu to accompany Modi for almost his entire stay

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top Israeli dignitaries will receive Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Ben-Gurion International Airport. Foreign Ministry Director General Yuval Rotem said on Monday at a press conference that Netanyahu, in a rather unusual step, will accompany his Indian colleague for almost all of his 48 hours in the country. “It’s not something we do with other leaders, but it is an indication that it is a historic visit and that we ascribe a lot of importance to it,” he said. (Barak Ravid)

9:04 A.M. How Israel Went From 'Contaminated' by Colonialism to India's Strategic Ally

As Narendra Modi arrives this week for the first state visit ever by an Indian prime minister to Israel, both he and his host Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be marking a significant warming up of ties between the two countries. But it will also express the fulfillment of a long-unrequited desire, dating back to the early days of the Jewish state, for close ties with, and recognition from, India. (Khinvraj Jangid / Opinion)

9:00 A.M. Wake up, Israel! Modi's visit will make history

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi disembarks from his plane upon his arrival at Ben-Gurion International airport near Tel Aviv on July 4, 2017.
JACK GUEZ/AFP

The public’s excitement in Israel when U.S. President Donald Trump visited in May was immense. His visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem was covered live on television and radio, even though Trump, as expected, had nothing significant to say there. Just months into his administration, Trump’s problematic performance in office has already undermined his credibility and power, but in Israel every minute of his one-day visit was followed as if it were an event of the greatest importance.

The childish awe that accompanied the president stands in unfortunate contrast to the indifference greeting the next state visit to Israel. Unlike the Trump visit, this one will mark an historic occasion: the first-ever by the prime minister of this country. This individual presides over an economy that is growing at a dizzying pace and could one day emerge as the world’s largest. Yet days before the arrival of the world's most important prime minister – India's Narendra Modi – Israel is asleep at the watch. (Meirav Arlosoroff / Analysis)

8:55 A.M. Does Trump's instability mean Israel should pivot toward India?

Judging by the multiple ‘promo’ articles in the Indian and Israel press pre-announcing the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel in July 2017, India could be Israel’s greatest ally. Uncertain of President Trump’s stand on several key issues, will 'redemption' come to Jerusalem via New Delhi?

Indeed, the stakes are high. Israel has already signed on its largest deal in history: a $2 billion defense agreement (reportedly, $1.6 billion for Israel Aerospace Industries and $0.4 billion for Rafael, a a state-owned defense company) by which India will purchase anti-missile systems  and components made in Israel. (Shalva Weil / Opinion)

8:50 A.M. Why Modi can afford to ignore the Palestinians

With Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel starting on Tuesday – the first ever by a sitting Indian prime minister –  it will be like the two countries arriving hand in hand to opening night of the opera season, lit by a barrage of flashing cameras.

Perhaps even more strikingly, Modi’s visit will not include a stopover in Ramallah as most world leaders visiting Israel do, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj last year. India hasn’t abandoned the Palestinian cause, as Modi’s apparent snub would suggest. But it does signal a new strategy of “de-hyphenating” the Israeli-Palestinian issue. That can only leave the Palestinians worse off. (David Rosenberg / Opinion)

8:45 A.M. A rundown of India's hefty arms deals with Israel

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to sign an agreement to purchase more weapons systems during his visit to Israel on Tuesday, Indian media outlets have reported.

One of the likely deals includes the purchase of 8,000 Spike anti-tank missiles, worth about $500 million, from Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. The sale has been delayed for about two years, but in the past few weeks it was brought to the Indian cabinet for approval. If the deal is finalized, 2017 will be a record year in terms of Israeli weapons sales to India, a major client of Israeli defense industries. (Gili Cohen)