Israeli media reports on Friday revealed that slain Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto intended to establish official relations with the Jewish state if elected and was seeking Mossad protection in the interim.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert grieved over Bhutto's assassination following an election rally on Thursday, and said that upon her return to Pakistan in October after years of exile Bhutto conveyed to him via a mutual acquaintance that she wanted close ties between Israel and Pakistan.
The Hebrew daily newspaper Ma'ariv further revealed that Bhutto had asked Israel's Mossad spy agency, along with the CIA and Britain's Scotland Yard, to help protect her in the run-up to Pakistan's January 8 election. Bhutto complained that current Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was trying to make her an easy target for assassination by now allowing her to use adequate protective measures.
According to the report, Israel's Foreign Ministry was in favor of aiding Bhutto, though the government ultimately decided against it for fear of angering the Musharraf regime and upsetting relations with neighboring India, a close ally of Israel engaged in an ongoing bitter confrontation with Pakistan.
Israeli leaders lamented that Bhutto, a popular former prime minister who was twice deposed by authoritarian elements, could have served as a bridge between Israel and the Muslim world.