Netanyahu welcomes India's Narendra Modi to Israel on state visit

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Shalom le kulaam ani semya mayodh lehiyot po (I am delighted to be here in Israel.) It is my singular honour to be the first ever Prime Minister of India to undertake this ground breaking visit to Israel. "We've been waiting nearly 70 years in fact, because yours is truly a historic visit". The visit coincides with India and Israel marking 25 years of their diplomatic relations. Behind the overt affection and friendship, lies deep political significance as India for the first time has delinked its relationship with Israel from its traditional support to Palestine.

Karat said the visit would lead to "total identification" of the Indian government - and through that of India - with the Israeli occupying state and would "legitimise all atrocities" and the occupation of Palestinian territories by Israel. "We admire your history, your democracy, and your commitment to progress", Netanyahu said. "But actually my friend the sky isn't the limit because today our space programmes are working towards reaching even greater heights", a smiling Israeli Prime Minister said.

Speaking of his "great admiration" for people of India for talent and Prime Minister Modi for yoga, the Israeli Prime Minister also recalled Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan.

Finally, New Delhi impressed Netanyahu so much that he made a decision to personally receive Modi at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, an honour which was given only to US Presidents or Pope. The tides between our talented innovative people is natural.

"Over coming decades, we want to frame a relationship that transforms the landscape of our economic engagement", the Prime Minister said.

After walking down the red carpet at the Ben Gurion Airport, Modi and Netanyahu stand in attention as the national anthems of the India and Israel played. Both countries are expected to sign an agreement setting up a $40 million innovation fund to finance joint research in agriculture, water, energy and technology during the prime ministerial visit.

Modi reminded the gathering that Tuesday was the 41st anniversary of Operation Entebbe, Israel's daring mission to rescue more than 100 passengers of an airliner that was hijacked to Entebbe airport in Uganda. "Your heroes are an inspiration for the younger generations", Modi said. The day when your Prime Minister, and my friend, Bibi, lost his older brother Yoni, while saving the lives of so many Israeli hostages.

In our path of sustained high growth and all around development, India counts Israel among its important partners.

"We must resolutely oppose the evils of terrorism ... and violence that plague our times", Modi said.

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