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Israel & the Muslim World


The Balfour Declaration in 1917 suggested the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the heart of the Arab world. Israel formally came into existence in 1948 with the UN approval of the partition of Palestine. The pan-Islamic world had opposed the formation of the Jewish state that resulted in a number of wars fought between the Arab world and Israel in the 20th century.

Pakistan too vehemently opposed the very formation of the Zionist state and didn’t recognize Israel as a state.

Israel has been emerging and evolving both militarily and technologically. Israel has state-of-the-art jets like stealth F-35 fighter jets that it used against Iran in Syria. In the cyberspace, Israel has used the Stuxnet worm to sabotage the Iranian Nuclear facility. Israeli electronic warfare capabilities can disrupt internet and cellphone service.

Thus, this fast-emerging Zionist state has threatened the peace of the Arab world and the entire region.

Recent Breakthrough

Recently, breaking news that UAE and Bahrain have recognized Israel has shaken the entire edifice of the unity of the Muslim world. The news remained the headlines of renowned newspapers across the world. Both the states developed friendly ties with Israel under the ‘Abraham Peace Accord’ brokered by the USA. In total, the four Arab states have so far recognized Israel; Egypt in 1979, Jordan in 1994.

More Arab states are expected to follow suit. Many analysts are of the view that the remaining Arab states will also recognize Israel sooner or later. Saudi crown prince has also shown interest in recognizing Israel. As an indication, recently KSA has opened its airspace for the commercial flights of Israel.

However, Saudi’s stance is that it would not recognize Israel unless the Palestine issue is resolved.

Trump recently said that Palestine should make peace with Israel too; otherwise, it would be left out in the cold.

Israel and the Arab leaders in the Persian Gulf had been discreetly developing ties for quite a long time through backdoor diplomacy, aligned by their common enmity toward Iran.

Israel’s Annexation Plan

With the UAE deal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remarked that they had delayed the annexation plans of the West Bank; however, that was still on the table.

Signing the Abraham Accord by the Arab States in tandem is an insinuation that they no more disapprove of Israeli illegal annexation of land in Palestine. The Muslim world called it a betrayal of trust. The states’ interests have overwhelmed the collective interests of the Muslim world.

Driving Factors behind Arab-Israel Rapprochement

Why has the Arab world suddenly got inclined towards making peace with Israel? Analysts have cited two main reasons;

First, emerging Iran is a common threat to the Arab States in the Gulf region. As America will be withdrawing any time soon from Afghanistan and with its influence fast waning from the region, the Arab world would need Israel to counter rising Iran influence in the region.

Girding against Iran is considered a more urgent priority,analysts say, than fueling a decades-long Arab antagonism toward Israel.

Therefore, the Arab world considered the recognition of Israel and making peace with her in their best interests.

Second, as Israel is a leading country in tech innovation, the Arab world would be able to get their hands on sophisticated technology, weaponry, and arms. Analysts say Bahrain’s move to recognize Israel could help that country secure state-of-the-art air defense systems from the United States and Israel.

Thus, the import of the latest arms and defense system would tilt the balance of power away from Iran.

Arab-Israel Rapprochement and Pakistan

Since it is clear that Pakistan is not going to normalize relations with Israel any sooner. PM Imran Khan categorically stated that normalizing relations is contingent on the independence of the Palestinian state acceptable to Palestinians. 

Being a sole nuclear country of the Muslim world, and the second-largest Muslim population in the world, Pakistan is a de facto leader of the Muslim world. She owns a responsibility to fight for the Muslims’ rights. The plethora of time, Pakistan has drawn the attention of the international community to the gross human rights violations in Kashmir and Palestine, through United Nations General Assembly sessions.

Thus, Pakistan’s position hurts the interests of perpetrators of human rights violations in Palestine and Kashmir.

As Pakistan is already dealing with the Indian aggressive posture in the Eastern border, now with the presence of Israel in the UAE near its waters would threaten Pakistan’s security from the South too.

Though, primarily Arab-Israel alliance is against Iran, but Pakistan must not remain in any delusion. The proximity of Israel to our waters by its presence in the UAE is alarming. In any near future, by any means whether, by cyber-attack or electronic warfare capabilities, an attempt can be made by Israel to sabotage Pakistan's nuclear facilities.

It is a need of time that Pakistan must survey the evolving dynamics of regional power politics and does effective policy-making to deter any aggressive posture or policy of any state posing a serious threat to its integrity. In this regard, a strategic alliance with China is the best policy option.

The establishment of the Chinese military or naval base in Gwadar would strengthen Pakistan’s position and Chinese footing in the Arabian waters that would effectively deter any aggression from India and Israel.

Moreover, Pakistan’s mutual endeavors with China in the field of science and technology can bring it up to par with the fast-emerging and developing regional states.

In the fast-changing world, hybrid and cyber warfare has become the order of the day. Pakistan needs to invest in information and communication technology to effectively counter it. Here again, joint ventures with China, Russia, and other like-minded regional states would be conducive to effectively tackling the new mode of warfare.

Moreover, a new emerging bloc of China, Pakistan, Russia, and Turkey would be effective in maintaining the strategic balance of power. The joint cooperation of the bloc in the field of defense, intelligence sharing, education, science, and technology is the need of the hour.

As China and Russia hold veto power, together the bloc can counter or veto any unfavorable resolution in the Security Council pertaining to illegal annexation in Palestine and Kashmir.

Thus, Pakistan should proactively design its foreign policy to maintain the strategic balance of power in the region that best suits its national interests and would ensue the win-win situation for all the states involved.


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