NEW York: As Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen claimed six or seven Islamic states were likely to normalize relations with Israel, Caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani maintained that Pakistan’s decision in this regard would be determined with consideration of both Pakistan’s national interests and those of the Palestinian people.

It is important to mention that FM Jilani never said that any process to recognise Israel is underway, he mentioned about the principled position of Pakistan anchored in UN Resolutions on Palestine calling for an independent and sovereign state of Israel with Al Quds Al Sharif as its capital.

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.

In response to the Israeli FM’s assertion, a senior Pakistani diplomat clarified on the condition of anonymity 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 Erdo an’s efforts. However, no such meetings at the level of foreign ministers or higher have been reported in the media since then. The senior Pakistani diplomat hoped that ‘Pakistan would not have to make a decision on this matter anytime soon’.

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 controversial map 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. Though, he said these Muslim countries are from Asia and Africa, he did not mention the names of those seven countries. This may be 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.

At the ministerial meeting of OIC Committee of Six on Palestine, the Foreign Minister Jilani had called for holding Israel accountable for its ongoing illegal actions and acts of aggression.

Jilani stated, “As long as Israel acts with impunity, there can be no meaningful deterrence. In this regard, Pakistan welcomed the United Nations General Assembly’s resolution passed on December 31, 2022, which called upon the International Court of Justice to provide an opinion on the legal ramifications of Israel’s unlawful occupation of the Palestinian territories. Pakistan has also submitted its statement to the ICJ in this regard.”

Jilani said, “Our presence here reflects the significance our respective countries attach to upholding the basic rights of people of Palestine. The tragedy in Palestine continues to deepen. The people of Palestine continue to be dispossessed, their fundamental rights denied and their right to self- determination disregarded.”

He pointed out that there has been a clear pattern of impunity, deliberate defiance of international law, willful violation of the UN Charter, and relevant UN Security Council resolutions by the Israeli occupying forces.

Jilani maintained, “Pakistan strongly condemns the Israeli atrocities, including the killing of innocent civilians, storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, expansion of illegal settlements, settler violence, administrative detentions and airstrikes on the densely populated Gaza Strip. These actions are gruesome illustrations of the cold-hearted disregard for human rights and rule of law.”

Jilani said the United Nations has declared 2023 as the deadliest for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza since 2005 while Israeli occupation forces have already killed over 200 Palestinians, including women and children, this year — a truly grim scenario.

Pakistan views these developments in Palestinian-Israeli conflict with concern. The OIC and international community must act to oblige Israel to halt its unlawful actions and move towards the path of peaceful dialogue to find a solution to the Arab-Israel conflict.

Jilani reiterated Pakistan’s call for establishment of a viable, independent and contiguous State of Palestine, based on the pre-1967 borders, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital. Pakistan rejects all Israeli attempts to undermine the work of UNRWA, mandated by the UN, and calls on states and donor agencies to fulfill their financial commitments pledged at various international conferences to support the work of UNRWA, Jilani added.

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