Sumera B Reshi
Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel rejected the media reports that the partnership with India is a threat to Pakistan. “We (Israel) are not enemies of Pakistan and Pakistan should not be our enemy either”, said Netanyahu.
In an interview with Times Now, Netanyahu categorically stated that Israel is not an enemy of Pakistan. Further, Israeli prime minister explained that Israel’s partnership with India is directed to four things and not to some specific country. He said his partnership with India is directed to achieve greater prosperity and greater security for the people, better health, cleaner air, water and more productive crops.
Netanyahu also emphasized that the cardinal aim of his Indian tour had an economic focus rather than a military one. He also claimed, “Israel is no longer viewed by most Arab countries as an enemy, but as an indispensable ally in their battle against radicalism.” However, one of the Pakistani newspapers described Netanyahu’s visit as ‘a week of weapon deals’. No such comments came from Pakistani officials; nonetheless, Political pundits showed their concern over the growing Indo-Israel defense cooperation and deem this cooperation as a threat to regional peace.
However, there is a growing concern in Pakistan over the closeness between India and Israel. As per media reports, India and Israel is expanding its military cooperation which has added to the worries of Islamabad. Media in Pakistan has emphasized the reports of defense deals being signed during Netanyahu’s visit to India. Already Pakistan is in grave situations following the breakdown of relations with the United States especially since Donald Trump took the reins of the US presidency. Recently, president Trump announced to reduce military assistance to Islamabad. The move also soured the already strained relationship between long-term allies on war on terror.
Recently Pakistan didn’t vote in favor of the US & Israel on the resolution in which president Trump declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. There is a concern among Pakistani officials regarding the Netanyahu’s visit; however, Islamabad was aware of the increased defense collaboration between India and Israel in the past as well. Moreover, observer’s view that Palestine was very dear to Indians but that is not the case now. India’s decision to stay out of voting regarding Jerusalem as the capital of Israel faced much more criticism at home.
Even an ordinary Indian is not in support of Palestine. Over the years, the nexus between Modi, Trump and Netanyahu has grown substantially. To show his love to Israeli premier Netanyahu, Modi went to receive Netanyahu at the airport. This illustrates the love chemistry between Modi and Netanyahu.
The much-hyped visit to India by Netanyahu is an indication of new emerging alliances, with the US at the heart followed by India, Australia, Japan & Israel in one camp. On the contrary, camp two consists Pakistan, China, Iran, Russia and Turkey.
Besides, defense deals did take place from India to Israel and the pivotal reason for Netanyahu visit to India is in the shroud. It is likely that some new defense deals might have been signed since India is the biggest arms purchaser from the US and Israel.
Furthermore, analysts hold the view that there is much more than meets the eyes between India and Israel. In the disguise of security and economic well-being, there is a deal going on between RAW and Mossad and the ties between the two countries will negatively impact Muslim countries in the neighborhood and India’s own Muslim population. It is likely that India-Israel defense ties will push the region into further turmoil. Netanyahu’s visit to India pumped new level of confidence in Indian Army Chief. He harshly threatened Pakistan and is vomiting venom in Kashmir as if he is at the helm of all affair or as if he is the de facto heir apparent of Kashmir.
“India & Israel relationship began on an anti-terrorism platform earlier. This is now in a consolidation phase and it fits in with new geopolitical realities”, opines Imtiaz Gul, executive director of the Center for Research and Security Studies.
According to Gul, India-Israel-the US are forming a triangle which will have implications in the region and Pakistan should not remain an enemy of Israel forever.
Pakistan came into existence on 14 August 1947 and Israel were established in May 1948 but Pakistan refused to recognize Israel as a state. Pakistan didn’t establish any diplomatic relations with Israel despite the agreements that Israel signed with Egypt in 1978, the PLO in 1993 and Jordan in 1994. These agreements didn’t bring in any change in Pakistan’s policy; however, it is believed that Pakistani officials maintained concealed contact with the Israeli officials.
The cardinal reasons for Pakistan’s Israel policy are religious solidarity with the Arabs-Muslim countries. Secondly, fear of an adverse response by Islamist groups throughout the Muslim world and concern that establishing diplomatic relations with Israel may cause instability with Pakistan. Nevertheless, Pakistan has maintained limited underground contacts if not diplomatic ties. On 14 January 1953, a meeting was arranged in New York between Zafrullah Khan (foreign minister of Pakistan) and Abba Ebhan, the then Israeli ambassador to the US. The meeting was related to Israeli-Pakistan ties and during the meeting, Zafrullah Khan categorically conveyed to Abba Eban Pakistan’s reservation of improved relations in near future. Zafrullah Khan said, “Pakistani government doesn’t bear any hatred towards Israel and understands that it is a factor in the Middle East that must be taken into consideration”.
Zafarullah Khan showed his approval of mutual visits of experts, students and professors for the time being. Zafarullah Khan stated on several times in March and April 1954 that his country didn’t recognize Israel and had no intentions of doing so. Israel is the only block in the Middle East, posed a danger for Arab countries and to the entire Muslim World. Pakistan was ready to help Arabs in protecting sites holy to Muslims. In fact issue of Palestine wasn’t just an Arab issue but also it was and is a Muslim one. Since the start, Pakistan has pledged support to issues pertaining to Muslims in Palestine in particular and other Muslims in general.
In addition, the seeds of hatred between Israel and Pakistan grew intense when Israel raised concern in the Knesset (parliament of modern Israel). Following Egypt’s defeat in the Sinai Campaign in November 1956, there were incidents of provocation and rioting against the 500 Jews living in Karachi. Israeli Foreign Ministry advocated that the world Jewish Congress and other organizations should pressure Pakistan in Washington and in the UN General Assembly in the New York to protect those 500 Jews. However, Pakistan didn’t move an inch from its pro-Arab policy.
The repulsion was such that Pakistan not only refrained from recognizing Israel or conducting any type of relations with it but also unconditionally supported the Arabs in the United Nations. Pakistan also snubbed to participate in sports events in which Israelis took part (except for the 1984 Olympics), or to permit Israelis to attend international conferences held in Pakistan. Sometimes, but not always, the venues of international conferences were changed for this reason.
Moreover, General Pervez Musharraf also tried to calm Israel on the nuclear issue but also proclaimed that there wouldn’t be any change towards its relations with Israel. Since long, India and Israel have security ties and that was the prime cause of worries for Pakistan. Pakistan didn’t sit back silently, it conveyed its concern to Israel. Musharraf tried much to gel with Israel but couldn’t proceed because of the Pakistan pro-Arab policy and due to the fear of possible backlash at home. So the Pakistan-Israel bonhomie remained a weak public relations event rather than a foreign policy component. Many times Musharraf tried but failed to establish a cord.
Again on 1 September 2005, the then foreign minister of Israel Silvan Shalom and his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Kasuri met in Istanbul. Israeli side was ecstatic over the meeting and termed it as a “source of great encouragement and hope for the Israeli people and aids in strengthening the moderates on the Palestinian side”. Even the Israeli press called the meeting “historic meeting”.
There were efforts and gestures and besides that Pakistan couldn’t move at all. The relations between Israel and Pakistan are stagnant and this sluggishness and stubbornness have prevented undercover Pakistani-Israeli ties in various fields. Now it is up to Pakistan to define its future course of action in view of the close Arab-Israeli & India-Israeli ties. Pakistan can’t and shouldn’t always beat its chest or look gloomy at the growing India-Israeli relations, rather Pakistan should rework on its foreign policy and act like a mature Islamic nuclear power.