Who Will Come to Silvan?

It is hard to get excited about warming relations between Israel, Pakistan when the next military front is developing in the West Bank.

Israel has carved another notch in its hunting belt: Pakistan. But, as in the children's fable about the tailor who smote seven in a single blow, this time it also turns out that maybe there is a notch, but there is no belt.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz was quick to reassure the leaders of Egypt, Syria and Jordan, explaining that the meeting between Foreign Ministers Khurshid Kasuri and Silvan Shalom in Istanbul did not constitute recognition of Israel. The meeting, he told these leaders - two of whom have full diplomatic relations with Israel - was only meant to encourage Israel to solve the Palestinian problem. Pakistan would establish diplomatic relations with Israel only when a Palestinian state was formed, with Jerusalem as its capital, he said.

Ah, such a shame. What a window of opportunity could have developed between the Muslim nuclear state and the Jewish "nuclear state." And how ungrateful is this state, which is only ready to conduct its relations with Israel in secret, only when the Jewish lobby in Washington is willing to help it win the American administration's assistance and only in order to antagonize India.

Around the same time the "historic event" in Istanbul occurred, it was reported that President Hosni Mubarak might visit Israel. While the excuse for the trip would be the memorial ceremony for Yitzhak Rabin, working meetings would also be part of the visit. And, as the Foreign Ministry's Protocol and Official Guests Bureau set out to prepare the working papers for this potential visit, King Abdullah of Jordan delivered his own surprise: It turns out that he, too, wants to come. And, suddenly, the commercial relations between Israel and the UAE are "exposed" and mysterious hints are sent about several other Arab leaders hovering over Israel, searching for an appropriate landing site. Finally, after having our fill of pictures of Mofaz, Netanyahu and Landau, the limelight has turned to Silvan Shalom, the glazier of the window of opportunity.

It is only a pity that Mubarak, Musharraf, King Abdullah and the other "secret leaders" have not confirmed everything the Foreign Ministry announced, and Shalom is left with his arms outstretched, without anyone running into his embrace. But that is not the main thing. The peculiar part in all these reports is the portrayal of the connection with another Muslim state or Arab leader as an achievement. As if Israel, which has not yet peeled off its bandages from the wounds of disengagement, has already received diplomatic compensation in that it is received and recognized by another enemy state.

Ostensibly, this is a healthy approach in managing foreign policy. This is the way a state should behave if it seeks to topple the walls of hostility around it. But there is something suspicious in the intentions of such a state when it searches out Muslim friends from afar, while distancing itself from the one local Muslim that could help it solve its problems. Why have we not heard, for example, about Silvan Shalom "meeting secretly" with Mahmoud Abbas? What happened to the road map and where have the promises about continuing the peace process disappeared?

It is hard to take seriously the excitement about the warming of relations between Israel and Pakistan, or Mubarak's visit, when the next military front is developing in the West Bank. A Qatari prince or Kuwaiti ruler, even if they deliver speeches at the Knesset or build amusement parks in Sderot, will not be able to conceal behind their robes the fact that it is necessary to engage in political dealings with the chairman of the Palestinian Authority regarding the dismantling of settlements and outposts, and the demarcation of the final border of Israel. Without such readiness, no joint nuclear development between Israel and Pakistan will deter the third intifada.

A state that presents the public with coming attractions about things that will transpire if the miraculous occurs and the peace process bears fruit, that promises relations with Muslim and Arab states and sets the removal of these threats as an ideological goal, cannot act as if it is oblivious to the full admission price to this movie. And those who are not ready to pay this price should stop talking about happy endings.