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Recent reports indicate that Pakistan, one of the largest Islamic countries in the world, is allegedly approaching a peace deal with Israel. The U.S. is mounting pressure on Islam Abad through its Arab allies, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
On December 18, Prime Minister Imran Khan responded to these reports in an interview with the local Samaa TV news channel saying that Pakistan will not recognize Israel until Palestinian rights are guaranteed.
Khan’s remarks came following Israeli reports claiming that a senior adviser to the “leader of a large Muslim-majority country in Asia” visited the Tel Aviv two weeks ago to discuss the potential normalization of relations.
The claims were first made by Israeli daily Israel Hayom. Later, Noor Dahri, Executive Director of the UK-based Islamic Theology of Counter Terrorism thinktank, detailed the alleged visit in a series of Twitter posts.
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It was a morning of the last week of Nov 20 at around 8am, a British Airways flight ??0165 flew from London Heathrow airport to Tel Aviv. The person who booked a business class, travelled from Pak. pic.twitter.com/nbtGLXuJub
— Noor Dahri (@dahrinoor2) December 15, 2020
Khan dismissed the claims, which led to a backlash against the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party on social media. The PM called these reports “fake news.”
“We will never recognize Israel until the Palestinians get their rights,” Khan said in the televised interview. “Why would anyone go from Pakistan when it’s our policy that we don’t recognize Israel? What’s a minister going to do there? This is absolutely fake news.”
Despite his remarks, Khan acknowledged that Pakistan was not “free” to make its own foreign policy decisions. This indicates that the Islamic country’s stand against peace with Israel may change in the near future.
In November, Khan revealed that Pakistan is “under pressure from friendly countries to recognize Israel.” The countries are thought to be Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Back then, the PM said his country “will not do so without a fair settlement to the Palestinians.”
Earlier this year, the UAE signed a historical peace treaty with Israel. Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan joined the peace process soon after. Saudi Arabia is reportedly a few steps away from following the same path.
Pakistan enjoys close ties with the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Both countries are known to be financial supporters of the Pakistani military. Islam Abad is also an ally of Turkey, which has been a partner of Israel since the late 40s.
Despite Khan’s denial, Pakistan will likely follow the footsteps of other U.S. allies and recognize Israel. Islam Abad will not likely be able to resist the political and economical pressure for too long. The popular rejection of peace with Israel will not likely be taken into account.
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