Amid reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was planning to visit India in September, New Delhi on Friday appointed Sanjeev Kumar Singla as India’s Ambassador to the Jewish nation.

An IFS officer of the 1997 batch, Singla was expected to take up his assignment shortly, the External Affairs Ministry said. He would replace Pavan Kapoor.

The appointment is significant since Singla would have to make preparations for Netanyahu’s likely visit just days before he faces elections.

Reports in the Israeli media have suggested that Netanyahu could come to New Delhi on 9 September just for a day to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, there has been no official word from either side on the visit.

Modi and Netanyahu have established strong personal chemistry between them. India-Israel relations have grown from strength in the last five years, especially in areas like defence and counter-terrorism. India had, in fact, used Israeli precision-guided munitions when the IAF struck at a JeM terror training camp in Balakot inside Pakistan on 26 February in the wake of the Pulwama attack on a CRPF convoy.

Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel in 2017, a trip Netanyahu returned in January 2018, which marked 25 years of the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the two countries.