Welcoming Singh, Netanyahu said, "Indians and Israelis share the combination of ingenuity and continuity."

The Home Minister sought closer ties with the country saying, "Israel plays a major role in world politics". Singh, who is here for his first bilateral visit, earlier tweeted, "India and Israel share very warm & cordial bilateral relations. We look forward to strengthen it further."

Singh, who arrived here last night, was scheduled to arrive yesterday morning but had to reschedule his plans after his flight from Monaco was cancelled due to bad weather. The Minister was in Monaco to attend Interpol's General Assembly. Despite the unexpected change in Singh's plans, the Israeli government rolled out a red carpet in welcoming him with Netanyahu, Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich re-adjusting their tight schedules to meet him.

Singh started his Israel visit by visiting Holy sites in the old city of Jerusalem.     The Home Minister then left for a helicopter tour of the Jordan Valley and Israel's northern and southern region with National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen to get a sense of the security situation in the country.

Cohen had recently met Singh in New Delhi and discussed "common challenges" faced by the two countries and their solutions, emphasising his country's "willingness to expand cooperation in all fields and in any level."

"India is a very important ally for us and we view the Home Minister's visit as very significant. We are looking forward to fruitful discussions that will strengthen cooperation between the two countries," a senior Israeli official said.

It is the first visit of an Indian Home Minister to Israel since June 2000 when L K Advani visited Jerusalem, marking an upsurge in bilateral cooperation. Singh's visit comes close on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meeting with Netanyahu on the sidelines of the
UN General Assembly in New York in September.