Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters
Benazir Bhutto
Photo: Reuters

Gillerman: Bhutto told me she feared for her life

Israeli ambassador to UN says in weeks prior to her assassination, 'intelligent, charismatic' Pakistani opposition leader sent him emails saying she was afraid extremist elements wanted her dead

Danny Gillerman, Israel's ambassador to the UN, told Ynet Thursday that in the weeks prior to her assassination, Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto expressed fear for her life in emails she had sent him.


Bhutto was murdered Thursday in a suicide bombing that also killed at least 20 others at a campaign rally in the city of Rawalpindi.


While Israel and Pakistan have never established diplomatic relations, Bhutto remained in contact with several Israeli figures.


Gillerman said Bhutto had recently sent him a copy of her new autobiography "Daughter of Destiny", including a warm dedication to Israel. According to him, in her last emails she expressed a fear of being killed by extremist elements in Pakistan.


"She wrote me of how she admired Israel and of her desire to see a normalization in the relations between Israel and Pakistan, including the establishment of diplomatic ties," the ambassador told Ynet after the UN Security Council denounced the assassination as a "heinous act of terrorism" and called on all Pakistanis to exercise restraint.


Gillerman said he had last met with Bhutto some three months ago, just two weeks before she decided to return to her homeland after eight years in exile.


"She asked to meet me to discuss her plans, share her thoughts and concerns with me, as well as examine the possibilities of normalizing relations between Israel and Pakistan," he said, adding that she had even expressed an interest in meeting Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.


'A serious threat'

Gillerman described Bhutto as an intelligent and charismatic leader, saying he was in awe of her patriotism and the sacrifice she made in giving up a comfortable life in the West to returning to Pakistan.


Colette Avital (Labor) met Bhutto for the first time in the 90s at a dinner held by former US President Jimmy Carter, when the Labor Knesset member served as Israeli consul general in New York.

During the party, Avital recalled, Bhutto sat in on an argument she held with Palestinian leader Hanan Ashrawi over the regional conflict.


According to Avital, it was Bhutto's strong commitment to principles that eventually brought about her death.


"She was murdered because someone wanted to get rid of her, because they realized that she had the potential to be even more active," the MK said.


"The president (Pervez Musharraf) and the candidate for prime minister deemed her a serious threat."


Avital said she had noticed a change in Bhutto's behavior during their last meeting, which took place six months ago in Geneva. "She began wearing a scarf on her head; she began leaning towards religious."  


פרסום ראשון: 12.28.07, 00:40
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