New Delhi: In a first, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travelled to Saudi Arabia along with Mossad intelligence chief Yossi Cohen Monday, for a ‘secret meeting’ with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
In episode 624 of ‘Cut The Clutter’, ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta looks at the implications of this meeting for the countries involved and the world at large.
Gupta noted that the three-hour long meeting was especially noteworthy because outgoing US President Donald Trump has been rendered a “lame duck” after the elections but is carrying on as if nothing has changed.
‘Normalisation’ of relations with Israel
According to Gupta, one of the first conclusions that can be drawn from this meeting is that there are attempts to “normalise” relations with Israel.
“Israel with the help of the Trump administration has launched a flurry of normalisation of relationships in the Arab world, or you might say that the Trump administration has launched a flurry of normalisations,” Gupta said.
The fact that Israel is getting direct flights to the UAE that pass over Saudi Arabia and is soliciting tourists to come from UAE is evidence of the fact, he noted.
Referring to an article by Pakistani columnist Kunwar Khuldune Shahid for Haaretz, Gupta stated that they would have wanted to “normalise normalisation” by having other Sunni countries do it first.
“But it looks like now, Trump got impatient. And Netanyahu got impatient. And MBS got impatient that you know, Biden administration [in the US] will come and we don’t know what will happen,” he said.
This meeting, Gupta pointed out, could have implications on the Israel-Palestinian conflict as well, since Saudi Arabia will be willing to settle for something short of a two-state solution now.
More importantly, it seems to have created ripples in Pakistan.
Gupta drew attention to a “rare interview” in which Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was asked whether there is pressure on Pakistan to recognise Israel.
“Imran Khan then says, very philosophically, see there is pressure and that is because at this point Israel has a great impact on America especially on the Trump administration,” Gupta narrated.
Khan also noted, during the interview, that there is also pressure from another Islamic country “who are good friends”. It has been deduced by several people that Khan was most probably referring to Saudi Arabia here.
“But, he (Imran Khan) says, how can we listen to them. I cannot recognise Israel because I am bound by what Jinnah stated earlier on for Pakistan, for Pakistan to accept Israel as a legitimate state there has to be a settlement to…their satisfaction” Gupta said, adding that Khan had avoided mentioning the two-state settlement when saying this.
He surmised that if Saudi Arabia is moving towards the direction of Israel it might want to pull Pakistan along with it, something the Pakistani army “will be okay with”.
“So either Pakistan now finally gives up Saudi Arabia and to that extent, even the Americans and latches its fate, on one hand with China strategically and on the other hand, on the Islamic side, with Turkey,” he said
Gupta added that this may leave Pakistan in a confusing situation.
Watch the latest episode of CTC here: