Modi to visit Israel on July 4, first by an Indian PM

The visit will include high-level bilateral meetings and other various components to reflect the fabric of the Indo-Israeli relations

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his arrival after a visit to Portugal, USA and Netherlands, on Wednesday.

The External Affairs Ministry on Wednesday announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Israel on a three-day trip between July 4 and 6. It said the visit will provide an impetus for deeper bilateral engagement in areas of mutual interest. Modi's Israel visit has been speculated for over three years since he assumed office.

The visit will include high-level bilateral meetings and other various components to reflect the fabric of the Indo-Israeli relations. "This significant visit, the first of an Indian Prime Minister to Israel, takes place on the backdrop of marking 25 years of diplomatic relations between India and Israel, and will further upgrade the ever growing partnership between the two countries," said a statement issued by the Israeli embassy here.

Coinciding the visit, the Union Cabinet, which met here under the PM, approved signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Israel on National Campaign for Water Conservation in India. According to this, the two countries shall work to enhance cooperation at the national, regional and international level to design, implement and monitor a professionally-designed National Water Conservation campaign in India. They will promote re-use, recharge and recycling of water besides developing digital tools such as websites, mobile applications on the subject of water conservation.

Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post reported that Tel Aviv was preparing for the Modi's visit in a grand scale. He will be given the same luxury suite at the King David Hotel that the US President Donald Trump stayed in during his visit. Modi and his delegation will be welcomed with pomp and ceremony: a red carpet will be laid out, and the PM will be greeted on arrival by Michael Federmann, the chairman of the Board of Directors of the group that owns and operates the hotel. Federmann's own interest in Modi's arrival in Israel is notable, as he is also the chairman of Elbit Systems, a defence electronics company that has considerable deals with India.

According to the paper, the hotel is making significant adjustments to the vegetarian menu for the luncheon meeting between Modi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On a compromise, fish will be served, but no meat or poultry. In order to best serve the Indian visitors, the hotel has also secured the services of Israeli-Indian restaurateur and television personality Reena Pushkarna and her team of chefs. Pushkarna and her team have been allocated their own kitchen for Modi's visit.

The Director of Operations at the King David, Sheldon Ritz, has overseen the preparations for Modi's trip, and noted that he could not recall anything as intensive as Modi's visit, in terms of arrangements prior to arrival. Ritz has previously been responsible for the arrangements for visiting royals, presidents, prime ministers, and other high-ranking officials from around the world.

Over the past three months, no less than eight delegations have come from India to Israel to check on details about Modi's visit, and the actual advance delegation arrived on Wednesday to ensure that everything will go like clockwork.

Some minor alterations were made to Modi's suite to suit his convenience. The Indian PM will be taking his own personal who prepares tea of his choice. When President Pranab Mukherjee stayed in the hotel, the housekeeping department found that it had to add to its supplies an item that had been virtually unknown in Israel since the departure of the British Mandate Authorities. But apparently British rule in India had left its mark, and the hotel had acquired a tea cosy to cover the Presidential teapot. It will now be taken out again to cover Modi's teapot.

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