Wrapping up Israel trip, Indian PM hails blossoming ties

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi departed from Ben Gurion International Airport on Thursday, wrapping up a three-day “historic” visit filled with expressions of mutual affection and a slew of economic and agricultural cooperation deals.

Upon his departure, the Indian premier tweeted out a message thanking Israel for the hospitality he was shown during his stay, saying the trip would further contribute to the two countries’ burgeoning ties.

“I thank the people and government of Israel for their hospitality. This successful visit will add more energy to India-Israel relations,” he said.

From Israel, Modi will fly to Germany, where he will gather with other world leaders in Hamburg during the G20 summit.

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I thank the people and Government of Israel for their hospitality. This successful visit will add more energy to India-Israel relations.

Upon Modi’s arrival in Israel on Tuesday, the ties between the two premiers and between New Delhi and Jerusalem were hailed for their warmth.

While the two countries already enjoy strong defense ties, with Israel selling to India over $1 billion in arms annually, Netanyahu and Modi inked deals to boost cooperation on satellite technology, water and agriculture, as well creating a $40 million innovation fund.

The two leaders also vowed to work together on combating terrorism, saying in a joint statement that “there can be no justification of acts of terror on any grounds whatsoever.”

In addition to the working side of Modi’s visit — which also included a series of meetings with Netanyahu, a sit-down with President Reuven Rivlin and a Thursday visit to an innovation conference with Israeli and Indian CEOs in Tel Aviv — the Indian prime minister’s trip also included a number of more personal moments.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C-L) embraces Moshe Holtzberg (C), son of slain US Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg who was killed with his wife in the November 26, 2008 attacks on the Nariman Chabad house in Mumbai, on July 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/Pool/Atef Safadi)

On Wednesday, Modi met 11-year-old Moshe Holtzberg, whose parents were murdered during a 2008 jihadist rampage in Mumbai, pulling the boy close for an embrace and telling him that he would always be welcome in India.

Also present was Moshe’s nanny, Sandra Samuel, who escaped from the Nariman Chabad House carrying 2-year-old Moshe in November 2008 after the building came under siege. Four Jewish victims were killed, including Moshe’s parents, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg. Samuel has remained in Israel and was at the meeting as well.

Later Wednesday, Modi addressed a gathering of thousands of Israelis of Indian descent in Tel Aviv, where event-goers were treated to a performance by a popular Bollywood singer.

Members of the Indian community in Israel celebrate during an event marking 25 years of good relations between Israel and India during the official visit of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the Convention Center in Tel Aviv, on July 5, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

On Thursday, Netanyahu and Modi traveled to Haifa in northern Israel, dipping their feet in the Mediterranean Sea at a beach in the coastal city, where they also were given a demonstration of a mobile desalination unit resembling a dune buggy. While in Haifa, the two also visited a cemetery for Indian soldiers who died during World War I.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi visit the water desalination plant at Olga beach on July 6, 2017. (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)

Noticeably absent from Modi’s itinerary was a rendezvous with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who most world leaders meet in the West Bank city of Ramallah while visiting Israel.

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