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There is a great deal of fanfare surrounding the historic visit to Israel by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Following, is the statement by Prime Minister Netanyahu at the Ben-Gurion International Airport during the official welcoming ceremony.
“My friend, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, welcome to Israel.
Prime Minister, we’ve been waiting for you a long time. We’ve been waiting almost 70 years in fact because yours is truly a historic visit. It’s the first time an Indian Prime Minister is visiting Israel. We receive you with open arms. We love India. We admire your culture, we admire your history, your democracy, your commitment to progress. We view you as kindred spirits in our common quest to provide a better future for our peoples and for our world.
Prime Minister, when I first met you at the United Nations three years ago, we agreed to break down the remaining walls between India and Israel. We shook each other’s hands and we agreed to forge a historic partnership for progress. We then met again in Paris and since then we’ve spoken many times on the phone. But I remember my friend what you said in that first meeting. You said that when it comes to India-Israel’s relations, the sky is the limit.
But actually, my friend, the sky isn’t the limit because today even our space programs are working together to achieve even greater heights. The ties between our talented innovative peoples is natural. It’s so natural that we could ask what took so long for them to blossom? Well, it took a meeting of minds and hearts, it took a commitment of our governments. We have that today. On this visit, you’re making India Initiative meet my “Make with India” policy. We’re setting up a 40-million-dollar innovation fund as the seed for even greater cooperation on technology between us. Our partnership extends to water, agriculture, security, energy, many, many other fields. I believe the formula for success is simple: it’s I2 T2. That equals – Indian talent times Israeli technology. It equals Israel-India’s ties for tomorrow. I2 T2. This is the degree of mathematics I remember from my student days. But I’m confident of the real mathematics of life.
I’m confident of the success of our partnership for many reasons: First, is the talent of our peoples. It’s been said, Prime Minister, that in Silicon Valley in California the two most common languages overheard are Hindi and Hebrew. Occasionally, one hears some native English too. Second, I believe in the success of our partnership because of the great sympathy between our peoples – the natural comradery between Indians and Israelis. The Jews of India and the 100, 000 Israelis of India descent are a wonderful human bridge between our two nations, our two peoples. Third, I’m confident of our success because of leadership.
Prime Minister Modi, you are a great leader of India and a great world leader. Your visit to Israel is a testament to that. Our two peoples have deeply held values rooted in ancient cultures, yet we both seek to realize the promise of a better future. I know, and this visit marks that very clearly, that we can do even more, even better together.
Welcome to Israel, my friend, Prime Minister Modi.
Shukran. Thank you.”
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)