ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday reiterated its commitment to a just and comprehensive resolution of the Palestine dispute, but said its position on normalisation with Israel would depend on how Palestinian interests would be best served and security in the Middle East is preserved.
“Pakistan’s approach will be guided by our evaluation of how Palestinians’ rights and aspirations are upheld and how regional peace, security and stability are preserved,” the Foreign Office said in its reaction to the trilateral US-UAE-Israeli agreement under which the UAE would fully normalise ties with Israel, details for which would be negotiated in their subsequent bilateral negotiations.
The UAE would be the third Arab country to normalise relations with Israel after Egypt and Jordan.
The Foreign Office maintained an ambivalent stance on the US-UAE-Israel accord, noting that it would have “far-reaching implications”.
The statement instead of clarifying Pakistani position left more questions especially with regards to normalisation with Israel.
The trilateral statement had said that following the agreement on normalisation with the UAE, Israel would focus “on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world”.
Govt offers ambiguous reaction to UAE-Israel accord
Pakistan does not officially recognise Israel though there have been multiple reports in the past of secret contacts between the officials of the two countries. Islamabad’s longstanding position on the issue of formalising ties with Israel has been that it could happen only after Tel Aviv reaches a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
Those who closely follow Pakistan’s foreign policy found the language of the statement a bit vague. Initially the goalpost for such a thing to happen was the realisation of a viable and independent State of Palestine based on pre-1967 borders with Al-Quds Al Sharif as its capital. The latest statement, meanwhile, links it to upholding of Palestinian rights and preservation of regional peace.
“Pakistan has an abiding commitment to the full realisation of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination. Peace and stability in the Middle East region is also Pakistan’s key priority,” the FO said.
“For a just, comprehensive and lasting peace, Pakistan has consistently supported a two-state solution in accordance with the relevant UN and OIC resolutions as well as international law,” it added.
There was no explanation in the statement about the government’s view about peace in Middle East. The official position so far has been that enduring peace in the Middle East cannot be achieved without a just resolution of the Palestine dispute.
The US-UAE-Israel joint statement had said “this historic diplomatic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East region”.
Pakistani position on the dispute closely follows that of its Arab allies. The stance of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government on the dispute and issue of ties with Israel has been much more flexible than that of past governments. Islamabad earlier this year did not reject Deal of the Century proposed by President Trump despite its categorical rejection by the Palestinians. Moreover, a debate on ties with Israel has been allowed to simmer on for a couple of years now.
Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2020