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Map of the Middle East

The good news is Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon will now be chairing the General Assembly’s legal panel that deals with counter-terrorism. The other day, the Danon candidacy for this post received “ayes” from 109 ambassadors out of 193 from the UN member states eligible to vote. Some analysts may be tempted to view this development as reflective of a growing positive mood among Muslim states towards Israel. They may argue the number of votes Danon got in the election could not have been possible without the support of some Arab states.

However, Jerusalem would do well to refrain from allowing any such apparent Arab positivism to cloud its strategic planning in future. Knowledgeable sources say the Arab states’ support, whatever, for Danny may not be treated as any good will towards Israel. Palestinian Permanent Observer to the United Nations Riyad Mansour has already been threatening around “the Sixth Committee will grind to a halt.” He has alleged Israel has won this election “only thanks to the efforts of the U.S., Canada, and Australia, which used all manner of blackmail and threats to guarantee a vote for Israel.” Mansour does not represent a full UN member state. He cannot vote at the United Nations. But his threat cannot be ignored in view of the Arab world’s well established linkages with Palestine.


Sources say all goodwill gestures that Arab states have displayed in the recent past are attributable to their present assessment that Israel can be their best partner in checkmating Iran’s well-established imperialist designs in and the rise of the Islamic State and the Muslim Brotherhood in the region. Also, the Arab states may be calculating Israel can be of an asset at a time when the United States’ traditional commitment to their security cannot be taken for granted.

Pertinently, Bahrain has of late been upset with Iran. Head  of the elite Qods Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani has threatened Bahrain’s ruling family with an armed uprising. The threat to the Gulf kingdom has been issued in the wake of Bahrain’s decision to strip its top Shiite cleric Sheikh Qassim of his citizenship over charges of fomenting sectarian divisions. Bahrain has a majority Shiite population but is ruled by a Sunni-led government heavily dependent upon Saudi Arabia.

The sources stress Jerusalem must never lose sight of the fact that most of the Muslim states remain ideologically dead opposed to the Jewish state. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation resolution ( Indonesia, March 7, 2016) urged “member states and the wider international community to ban products produced in or by illegal Israeli settlements from their markets.”

Significantly, I find , most of the Arab leaders have had a similar approach towards secular India. Notwithstanding the occasional bonhomie displayed by some Arab rulers in their bilateral meetings with Indian leaders, they keep opposing New Delhi in their forum of the Organization of Islamic States. In its 13th Summit held in Istanbul (April10-15) the OIC called on India to implement the United Nations resolutions on  Kashmir. It expressed concern at the “violations of human rights” in the state and ”affirmed support to the Kashmir struggle.” It said this struggle could not be equated with terrorism and called upon the UN for implementation of the Security Council’s resolutions that called for “the resolution of the dispute and guarantee Kashmiris’ (inalienable) right to self-determination through a UN supervised plebiscite.” The OIC reaffirmed that Jammu and Kashmir was “the core dispute between India and Pakistan and its resolution “imperative for bringing peace in South Asia.”

The summit welcomed the establishment of a standing mechanism by the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) for monitoring the human rights situation in Kashmir and called upon India to allow the OIC Fact Finding Mission and the international human rights groups and humanitarian organizations access to Kashmir.

I would just suggest the OIC the devils do not preach gospels. Most of the OIC states are absolutely sectarian at the cost of many sections of society. They treat women inhumanly. Their support to the state of Pakistan on Kashmir is absolutely immoral and criminal. Pakistan hardly respects human rights in the part of Kashmir occupied by it. In contrast, citizens in Jammu and Kashmir are as free as in the rest of India. Pakistan has no legal basis to hold on to PoK. The UN resolution clearly demands Pakistan to vacate first the Kashmir occupied by it so that a referendum could be held to determine the wishes of the people in the entire Valley.

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Jagdish N. Singh is an Indian journalist based in New Delhi.