Jerusalem: In what is seen as an attempt to reach out to the Indian diaspora in Israel, Prime Minister Narendra Modi last night announced plans to launch flight service to Tel Aviv from Delhi and Mumbai and also urged them to visit India more.
“A Delhi-Mumbai-Tel Aviv air service will be initiated. And so I invite youth of Israel to visit India,” Modi announced amid applause from the large gathering at the Tel Aviv’s Convention Center.
Air India had earlier announced to start direct flight between Delhi and Tel Aviv but the flight service initially set to start in May-June did not materialise as some countries had reservation over flights operating over their air space.
Prime Minister promised to ease the process of acquiring Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) and Person of Indian Origin (PIO) cards by Israelis or Jewish of Indian origin.
People of Indian community who have done compulsory army service in Israel will be eligible for OCI cards, Modi announced.
He also said that an Indian Cultural Centre would be set up in Israel at the earliest.
“India’s ties to Israel are about tradition, culture, mutual trust and friendship. Israel has shown that more than size, it is the spirit that matters,” said Modi, who has become the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accorded a grand welcome to Modi and heaped praise on him and went to extent of calling Indian Prime Minister – a “world leader”.
Netanyahu also joined PM Modi on-stage and had greeted the 6,000-strong audience with a “Namaste”. “We always remember that there is a human bridge between us, we admire you, respect you, love you,” he said.
Netanyahu said it was a “matter of joy” that after long 70 years for the first time an Indian Prime Minister has got an opportunity to visit Israel.
“Prime Minister Modi and I have decided to take our partnership to new heights,” Netahyahu said. Air India used to operate directs flights to Israel from Delhi until mid-1990s and Mumbai until 2000.