Narendra Modi, the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel, was accorded a grand welcome by his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, who received him at the airport. Welcoming Modi at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport, Netanyahu termed the friendship between the two countries as “natural“. Making a statement soon after Modi's arrival, Netanyahu announced that a $40-million innovation fund was being set up for cooperation in the fields of water technology, agriculture and energy. Modi, on his part, said India would seek to expand counter-terror partnership with Israel.
Netanyahu began his press statement with Hindi words -“aapka swagat hai mere dost“. He described PM Modi as a “great leader“ and a “world leader“. After according a red-carpet welcome to Modi, Netanyahu recalled that in their first meeting three years ago Modi had said that “sky is the limit“ for India-Israel relationship. “You had said when it comes to India-Israel relationship, sky is the limit. But actually, my friend, sky is not the limit because today our space programmes are working towards reaching even greater heights,“ a smiling Israeli PM said.
In his welcome remarks, Modi said in Hebrew “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 under take this ground-breaking visit to Israel... My visit celebrates the strength of centuries old links between our societies. Based on these bonds our partnership has maintained a strong and sustained upswing since the establishment of full diplomatic relations 25 years ago.“
Modi noted: “Today is July 4, exactly 41 years since Operation Entebbe.The day when your prime minister, and my friend, Bibi, lost his older brother Yoni, while saving the lives of so many Israeli hostages. Your heroes are an inspiration for the younger generations.“
Modi and Netanyahu visited the Danziger Flower Farm on the way from Ben Gurion Airport to Jerusalem. The two leaders also visited Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. He visited three Halls, including the Hall of Names, which has about 4.6 million names of holocaust victims in boxes stored on shelves.