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PAKISTAN, PALESTINIANS & POLITICS

Zalman Shoval: 'Israel Wishes To Improve Relations With Pakistan But Jerusalem's Strong Relations With India Must Take Priority'

'Israeli Building Inside Settlement Blocs In Judea & Samaria Should Not Be Source Of Tension With U.S.'

'Sharon-Netanyahu Split In Likud Could Lead To Negative Forces Taking Control With Their Line'

Foreign Ministers Kasuri & Shalom

What's behind the dramatic meeting between Israel's Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and his Pakistani counter-part Kharshid Kasuri in Istanbul? Is Likud candidate Bibi Netanyahu defying U.S. President George W. Bush by announcing that, if elected Prime Minister, he will build housing to link Maale Adumim with Jerusalem? And what impact might a Likud split between incumbent Arik Sharon and challenger Netanyahu have on the next Israeli election? These are some of the key issues discussed by Zalman Shoval, a former Israeli Ambassador to Washington in an interview with IsraCast.

:: IsraCast Audio ::

Israel's strong relations with India must take priority although Jerusalem wants to improve ties with Pakistan. That's the reaction of Zalman Shoval a policy advisor to Prime Minister Sharon and a former Israeli ambassador to Washington. Shoval was commenting to the sudden and surprising news that Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and his Pakistani opposite number Kharshid Kasuri have had a cordial and public meeting in Istanbul. Secret contacts have been going on for years; Shoval has met with senior Pakistani officials during his term in Washington. However, he added Israel's relaunching of the peace process with the Palestinians and the disengagement have influenced Pakistan. Moreover, the Pakistanis are interested in improving their image in the U.S. Shoval revealed that other Muslim countries, which do not have diplomatic ties with Jerusalem, are also holding secret contacts with the Jewish state.

The former ambasador, who is running again for the Likud Knesset ticket, was asked to comment on Bibi Netanyau's declaration about building between Maale Adumim and Jerusalem. In Shoval's view building in settlement blocs that will be retained by Israel in a permanent peace should not be a source of tension with the Bush administration. In dosmestic politics, Shoval warned a split between Sharon and Netanyahu in the Likud could lead to 'negative forces' taking office.

David Essing

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