Jerusalem: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has a packed schedule in Israel today with back-to-back meetings with top leadership, an indication of burgeoning bilateral ties and a visit seen as a build up to the much awaited trip of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the region.
Ms Swaraj, who is on her first visit to West Asia as the External Affairs Minister, will be meeting President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Minister of Infrastructure Yuval Shteinitz and Deputy Foreign Minister Tsipi Hotovely.
She will be also meeting the Indian community in Israel. There are four groups of Indian Jewish communities in Israel with an approximate strength of 80,000.
Mr Netanyahu, who has met PM Modi twice in the past year and a half, has said that “sky is the limit” that can be achieved between the two sides with “limitless” potential.
Describing PM Modi as “his friend”, the Israeli Prime Minister has in the past said that his Indian counterpart has told him that New Delhi needs Tel Aviv to achieve major developmental projects outlined by him.
Ms Swaraj’s visit comes barely three months after the historic visit of President Pranab Mukherjee, the first by an Indian Head of State to Israel, and aims at encasing on the goodwill generated by that visit.
Yesterday, she crossed over to West Bank from Israel and held talks with the top Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.
She met her Palestinian counterpart Riyad al-Maliki and reaffirmed India’s consistent support for the Palestinian cause, emphasising that there has been “absolutely no change in its policy in this regard”.
Ms Swaraj later called on President Mahmoud Abbas. She also paid a floral tribute at Mahatma Gandhi’s bust and paid homage to iconic Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at his mausoleum.