National, Palestinian interests will determine any ties with Israel: FM Jilani

ISLAMABAD   -  Caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani said on Sunday that while taking any decision regard­ing establishing relations with Israel Pakistan would first consider its national interests and those of the Palestinian people.

The statement came in response to Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen’s remarks regarding normalisa­tion of Israel’s relations with the Muslim world. Co­hen, as reported by Israeli media outlet Kan News, suggested that ‘six or seven’ Islamic nations were likely to normalise ties with Israel, following Sau­di Arabia’s potential inclusion in the Abraham Ac­cords, which already involved the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan.

The Israeli minister also claimed to have met with leaders from several Muslim countries who have not recognised Israel yet. Jalil, in response to the Israeli FM’s assertion, clarified that Cohen has not met with any Pakistani official in recent times. In 2005, during the tenure of former president Gen­eral Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s then-foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri met with his then-counterpart Silvan Shalom in Turkey, Istanbul.

This was the first meeting that took place pub­licly and was a result of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s efforts. However, no such meet­ings at the level of foreign ministers or higher have been reported in the media since then. A se­nior Pakistani diplomat, on the condition of an­onymity, hoped that Pa­kistan would not have to make a decision on this matter in the near fu­ture. In his address at the 78th United Nations General Assembly this week, Israeli Prime Min­ister Benjamin Netanya­hu said peace with Saudi Arabia means peace be­tween the Muslim world and Jews. Netanya­hu also claimed Israel is “on the cusp” of nor­malising ties with Sau­di Arabia while holding maps showing the West Bank, Gaza, and Golan Heights as part of Is­rael. His statement has since sparked a new de­bate about which Mus­lim countries, after the UAE, Bahrain, Moroc­co, and Sudan, will es­tablish relations with Is­rael. It should be noted that Cohen has claimed that six or seven Mus­lim countries, including Saudi Arabia, will soon recognise Israel. How­ever, he did not mention the names of those sev­en countries due to the situation in Libya, in­ternational affairs ex­perts believe. A signif­icant diplomatic issue with Libya was sparked less than a month ago by Cohen, whose office dis­closed that then-former foreign minister of Lib­ya, Najla Mangoush, had met with him in Rome. Mangoush was fired as a result of the discovery, which also caused wide­spread protests in North Africa, and fled to Lon­don. Following his error, US officials reprimand­ed Cohen for “killing” the conduit of commu­nication with Libya, The Cradle reported.