Sunday May 29, 2022
DAVOS: Israel President Isaac Herzog has said that he had had an "amazing experience" while meeting a delegation, mainly comprised of Pakistani expatriates, living in the United States.
The Israeli president was speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) — held in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday — about the Abraham Accords, a US-backed deal that led to the normalisation of Israel's ties with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
Pakistan has refused to accept Israel as a sovereign state from the outset and pushed for a two-state solution to resolve the Palestine-Israel conflict — and every government that came to power has endorsed this stance.
The Foreign Office, after the Abraham Accords were struck in August 2020, made it clear that Pakistan was not considering recognising Israel.
"For just and lasting peace, it is imperative to have a two-state solution in accordance with the relevant United Nations and OIC resolutions, with the pre-1967 borders, and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as the capital of a viable, independent and contiguous Palestinian State," said the Foreign Office had said.
But Herzog said that the Abraham Accords was yielding in all levels of life and not restricted to mere visits.
In response to a question of WEF President Børge Brende, Herzog said: "I'll tell you, you know, we are seeing it in all levels of life. Not speaking about just mere visits. We are seeing interest on all economic, scientific, and innovation levels, but I will tell you more about the personal feelings."
Herzog told the WEF president that he met two delegations — Moroccans and Pakistan-Americans — last week that showed him the "great change" yielded from the Abraham Accords.
"One was a delegation of young opinion-makers from Morocco who have aligned on Facebook with an Israeli NGO. They both came and sat with us for an hour and it was just amazing to listen to the experience of breaking barriers and moving forward and intertwining with each other."
The Israel president said a day after meeting the Moroccan delegation, he received a group of "proud" Pakistani expatriates residing in America who live together in the US with people from other countries in their region.
"And I must say this was an amazing experience because we haven't had a group of Pakistani leaders in Israel ever in such scope, and that all stems from the Abraham Accords, meaning Jews and Muslims can dwell together in the region."
Responding to media queries, the spokesperson of the ministry of foreign affairs categorically rejected the notion of any delegation from Pakistan visiting Israel.
The reported visit in question was organised by a foreign NGO which is not based in Pakistan, the FO spokesperson said in a statement.
"Pakistan’s position on the Palestinian issue is clear and unambiguous. There is no change whatsoever in our policy on which there is a complete national consensus."
The statement further added that Pakistan steadfastly supports the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination.
"The establishment of an independent, viable and contiguous Palestinian state with pre-1967 borders and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, in accordance with the relevant UN and OIC resolutions, is imperative for just and lasting peace in the region," the statement added.
Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal said no official or semi-official delegation from Pakistan met the Israeli president.
"The participants in this delegation were Pakistani-Americans who have already provided an explanation in this regard," the planning minister said in a tweet.
Iqbal said the policy of the Government of Pakistan is clear — it does not recognise the state of Israel. "All our sympathies lie with brothers and sisters of Palestine."
In response to the Israeli president's statement, ex-human rights minister Shireen Mazari levelled allegations against the incumbent government for fulfilling US demands.
"Another commitment made to US under regime change conspiracy by imported government and other co-conspirators fulfilled! Shameful subservience!" the former federal minister said.