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Jaishankar joins Israeli Independence Day celebrations showcasing special ties

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New Delhi is also eagerly looking forward to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's first official visit to India (File image courtesy: PIB)

The deep friendship and multifaceted strategic partnership between India and Israel was once again on full show as External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar joined Israel's 74th Independence Day celebrations in New Delhi immediately after returning home from a whirlwind tour of Europe along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.

Hosted by Israel's Ambassador to New Delhi, Naor Gilon, the event also celebrated the 30th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. It was attended by several politicians, diplomats and celebrities, including Tsahi Halevi, star of hit Israeli television series 'Fauda'.

Though Israel had a Consulate in Mumbai operating since 1953, it was on January 29 in 1992 that India and Israel established diplomatic relations. 

The 30th anniversary is being marked throughout the year with an elaborate array of cultural events highlighting the remarkable achievements of the last three decades and depicting how India has become central to Israel's policy, politically, commercially, in science and culture.

Gilon said that Jaishankar's presence at the celebrations was a testimony of the bonds of friendship that exist between the two countries.

"I've to quote our guest of honour who during his visit to Israel last October said that relations between us didn't start 30 years ago. It's a connection between very old civilisations which is probably basis for very healthy bilateral relations the two modern countries are having," Gilon commented while welcoming Jaishankar.

Earlier this year, both countries had launched a commemorative logo to mark the 30th anniversary of relations.

The logo features the Star of David and the Ashoka Chakra - the two symbols that adorn the national flags of both countries- and forms the numeral 30 depicting the 30th anniversary of bilateral relations.

This logo, said Jerusalem, symbolises the strong friendship, love and admiration that exists between the people of Israel and the people of India. It also depicts the growing strategic partnership between the two sides.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also congratulated the people of Israel on the occasion of their Independence Day.

"On the occasion of the 75th Independence Day of Israel, on behalf of the Government of India and all Indians, I extend my warm greetings to all our Israeli friends. This year we are also celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of our diplomatic relations. Even though this chapter is new, the history of the relations between the two countries is very old. I hope that in the years to come we will deepen our relationship further," PM Modi said in a message.

Israeli Independence Day is celebrated annually on the anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel, according to the Hebrew calendar, on the fifth day of the month of Iyar.

The day preceding the celebration is devoted to the memory of those who gave their lives for the achievement of the country's independence and its continued existence.

New Delhi is also eagerly looking forward to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's first official visit to India. The Israeli leader was earlier scheduled to visit New Delhi on April 2 but had to postpone the visit after testing positive for Covid-19.

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PM Modi and Bennett had first met on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow last October.

While the purpose of the India visit is to advance and strengthen the strategic alliance between the countries, and to expand bilateral ties, Bennett is also expected to visit the Jewish community in India.

Israel has maintained that it is appreciative of the fact that Jews in India were never persecuted.

"We are hoping to have him soon. It is on the plan, assuming that the political situation in Israel will enable it. I hope it will happen sooner rather than later," Gilon told ANI on Thursday.

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