Pakistan: No Plans to Recognize Israel

Pakistan reiterated Tuesday it will not establish relations with Israel until there is “a viable, independent and contiguous” Palestinian state acceptable to the Palestinians.

The statement came in response to persistent speculative media reports and commentaries that the South Asian majority-Muslim nation might be reconsidering its rejection of recognizing Israel.

The Pakistani Foreign Ministry refuted the media debate as baseless speculation and stressed that Islamabad “steadfastly supports the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination.”

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent statement has been “clear and unequivocal” on the issue, underlined the ministry spokesman.

“The prime minister has made it clear that unless a just settlement of the Palestine issue, satisfactory to the Palestinian people, is found, Pakistan cannot recognize Israel,” the spokesman noted.

“For just and lasting peace, it is imperative to have a two-state solution in accordance with the relevant United Nations and OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) resolutions, with the pre-1967 borders, and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as the capital of a viable, independent and contiguous Palestinian State,” the Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Pakistan has denounced Israel since its inception in 1947. Pakistanis cannot visit the Jewish state because the country’s passport states that it is “valid for all countries of the world except Israel.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reported “secret” visit to Saudi Arabia this past Sunday for talks with Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman has fueled speculations Riyadh was moving toward recognizing Israel.

Those speculations stemmed from the historic United States-brokered deal the United Arab Emirates reached with Israel in August establishing ties between the two countries.

Saudi officials, however, denied the reported visit by Netanyahu.

But the alleged trip has also intensified rumors about Pakistan following suit and recognizing Israel under Saudi pressure.

Pakistan has a traditionally close partnership with Saudi Arabia, which is seen in Islamabad receiving crucial Saudi financial assistance and oil supplies on deferred payments, as the South Asian nation faces economic challenges.

Speaking to a private Pakistani television channel earlier this month, Prime Minister Khan admitted his government was under diplomatic pressure to recognize Israel. But he was evasive when asked to say if “brotherly Muslim countries” were also among those exerting the pressure on Pakistan in the wake of the UAE-Israel deal.

“Leave it, let’s move on,” Khan replied. “There are certain things that we cannot discuss in public because of our good relations with (Muslim countries). We wouldn’t want to upset them. Let our country stand up on its feet, then ask me such questions.”