Israel says Pakistan not among states it may have ties with

Pakistan is not among the Muslim countries Israel is aiming to normalise relations with, an Israeli cabinet minister said.

In recent months, the Trump administration has brokered rapprochements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.

Ofir Akunis, Israel’s regional cooperation minister, told Ynet TV on Wednesday that there were two more countries lined up to normalise ties with Israel before US President Donald Trump leaves the White House next month.

He did not name either but said one was in the Gulf but would not be Saudi Arabia.

The other, further to the east, is a “Muslim country that is not small” but is not Pakistan, Akunis said.

Earlier this week, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Islamabad cannot recognise Israel until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved.

“I categorically presented Pakistan’s stance on Israel to the UAE’s foreign minister [during a visit to the UAE] that we will not and cannot establish a relationship with Israel until a concrete and permanent solution to the Palestine issue is found,” Qureshi said.

Qureshi’s statement came days after his visit to the UAE, which was seen by many as crucial amid rumours that Islamabad had secretly sent a messenger to Israel.

Islamabad denied the reports, which appeared mainly in the Israeli media.

Responding to questions regarding reports about alleged pressure from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Gulf states for the recognition of Israel, Qureshi said he explained to his UAE counterpart the “depth of emotions and feelings Pakistanis have about Palestine and Kashmir”.

Meanwhile, Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country, said last week it would not recognise Israel as long as Palestinian statehood demands remain unmet. Malaysia has signalled a similar policy.

In Dhaka, a foreign ministry official said Bangladesh was not interested in establishing diplomatic ties with Israel.

“Our position remains the same,” he told the Reuters news agency.

Oman has praised the US-brokered diplomatic drive but has not commented on its own prospects of forging Israel ties.

The Palestinians, whose negotiations with Israel stalled in 2014, fear being sidelined by the normalisation process.

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