WASHINGTON, Sept 3: The Palestinian Authority (PA) has denied that it gave approval to the Istanbul meeting between the foreign ministers of Pakistan and Israel. Commenting on reports that Pakistan had informed the PA before the meeting and it had approved the Istanbul talks, Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister and Information Minister Nabil Shaath said: “There is a difference between notifying us and the claim that we gave the meeting the green light.”

“Israel has done nothing that a country such as Pakistan should reward it with a prize,” said a statement issued by the Palestinian Media Centre here on Saturday.

“We cannot dictate Pakistan’s foreign policy, but we expect our friends and allies to demand that Israel restores our rights in return,” Mr Shaath said.

The Palestinian leader recalled that 2002 Beirut Arab summit had adopted a peace initiative which supported the PA’s position that Israel should withdraw from all Arab lands it occupied in 1967 before it could be recognized.

Mr Shaath, however, acknowledged that Pakistan was not bound by the resolutions of the Arab League because it was not a member of the organization.

“We expect our Arab and brothers to carry out the commitment they gave in Beirut and also expect our Muslim brothers to support this position,” he said.

Mr Shaath said that before offering any concessions to Israel, Pakistan and other Muslim countries should urge it to “implement the peace process, not only in Gaza, but also in the West Bank and Jerusalem. “Israel must take more steps before any Arab or Muslim country recognizes it. Israel does not want to make any progress on the West Bank after the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip,” he pointed out.

Meanwhile, an opposition Palestinian faction has deplored Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri’s meeting with his Israeli counterpart Silvan Shalom.

The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine led by Nayef Hawatmeh said in a statement released in Tunis the Istanbul meeting was “a free gain to nuclear Israel and a complete defeat for Arabs and Muslims”.

The group said: “The meeting exposed folly behind the Arab thinking that Pakistan’s nuclear bomb found a balance of terror between the Islamic world and Israel.”

It described the Pakistani move as “painful, because it came under pressure by the US and Israel.”

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