Is Israel a Pariah? Not According to Its New Friends

(Bloomberg) Eli Lake - On March 10, Dore Gold, the director general of Israel's Foreign Ministry, visited the government that replaced the apartheid regime in South Africa. Gold made sure to visit Nelson Mandela's home in Soweto. Next month, Benjamin Netanyahu will be the first Israeli prime minister since Yitzhak Rabin to travel to African capitals for meetings with the leaders of Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. China is now Israel's third-largest trading partner. Gold told me that it's almost impossible to get a seat these days on the El Al flight from Tel Aviv to Beijing. Narendra Modi is expected to be the first Indian prime minister ever to visit Israel later this year. Prime Minister Netanyahu has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin four times in the last year. He has also worked out a deal, according to senior officials, in which Russia will allow Israeli jets to target members of Hizbullah operating in Syria, where Russians now control the air space. "The prime minister is cognitive of the fact that the United States is [Israel's] number one ally," Gold told me. "But the relationship with Putin has vastly improved. Instead of being in conflict with him like we were, we are now making sure there is a line open to him." There is also much secret diplomacy between Israel and the Gulf monarchies. Gold said that today the Middle East faces the twin threats of Iran and the Islamic State, which "creates a lot of mutual interests between Israel and the Arab states."

2016-06-20 00:00:00

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