September 28, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10815

Columns In Urdu Dailies Of Pakistan Discuss Saudi-Israel Normalization Of Relations And Whether Pakistan Should Recognize Israel: 'Do Not Forget That Palestine Itself Has Recognized Israel'

September 28, 2023
Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 10815

American diplomatic efforts aimed at the normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel have re-ignited discussions in Pakistan, which views itself as the second Islamic state after the first one established by Prophet Muhammad in Medina, as to whether it should be part of such a reopening of the Islamic world. Pakistan, which was created in the name of Islam in 1947, has a strong tradition of Antisemitism.[1]

In July 2023, Pakistan's political leaders launched antisemitic attacks on Israel, Zionists, and the Jews after Israel's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Adi Farjon, speaking at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), expressed concern over the deterioration of human rights in Pakistan and the Pakistani state's persecution of opposition leaders and activists.[2]

In September 2023, in the wake of the Saudi-Israel move for normalization of ties, Islamic religious scholars, who hold outsized power on public opinion in Pakistan, expressed fear that Pakistan might recognize Israel. The worry among Pakistani clerics also follows from Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen's statement that along with Saudi Arabia, six or seven Muslim countries will normalize ties with Israel.[3]

According to a report in the Urdu daily Roznama Express, Maulana Khalil Ahmad and Maulana Abdul Qadir Loni, respectively emir and deputy emir of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam ideological group, recently asked the Pakistani government to announce a clear stance on the recognition of Israel, ending uncertainty among the people.[4]

Expressing concern that Pakistani government is not stating its stance publicly, Maulana Khalil Ahmad, Maulana Abdul Qadir Loni, and other scholars of their party said that Israel "is an ulcer for the region and it is obligatory upon the Muslim Ummah to dig out this ulcer from its roots" and added that "Israel has occupied the First Qibla [the direction toward which a Muslim turns to pray in Islam; the 'First Qibla' is Jerusalem] of Muslims for half a century by trampling upon all types of human, moral, and political limits."[5]

The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam scholars added: "Jews are using all kinds of criminal tactics to maintain their illegitimate occupation. Israel has left nothing in enmity against Islam... The liberation of Bait-ul-Muqaddas [Jerusalem] and Palestine is the Islamic duty of the Muslim Ummah. Bait-ul-Muqaddas does not belong to Palestinians alone; it is the First Qibla of Muslims and is an important spot on the miraj journey of Prophet Muhammad is also the center of beliefs and loves of the world of Islam."[6] "The Muslim Ummah," the religious scholars added, "should rise up for its freedom rather than accepting Israel. The day is not far when Israel will be obliterated from the region."[7]

Caught in political and economic turbulence, Pakistan has a caretaker government until general elections are held, possibly in January 2024. Speaking separately, Pakistan's caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani said that any decision regarding normalization of relations with Israel will be made in "the best interests of the country" and "with due consideration of the interests of the Palestinian people."[8]

Recently two leading Urdu dailies published articles discussing the normalization of relations with Israel. In the first article – published by Roznama Jasarat and titled "Israel-Saudi Peace Agreement And Palestinian Freedom?" – columnist Qazi Jawed traced the issue of Palestine-Israel relations, arguing that "the Israel-Saudi peace deal will be another blow to Palestinian freedom" – much in the manner the Oslo Accords and Camp David agreement were foiled.[9]

In the second article – titled "Palestine Itself Has Recognized Israel Under The Oslo One Accord" and published by Roznama Jang – Farrukh Saleem, the columnist, argued that a formal recognition of Israel could benefit the Pakistani economy, with cooperation in a range of fields such as advanced agricultural technology, cyber security, and water management.[10] Translated excerpts from both the articles are given below, with Qazi Jawed's article followed by Farrukh Saleem's write-up.

Following are excerpts from Qazi Jawed's article:[11]

"The Majority Of Egyptians Rejects Any Rapprochement With Israel Until The Palestinians Gain An Independent State Of Their Own; Therefore, It Is Peace, But Peace Is More Dangerous Than Cold War"

"According to the foreign news agency Reuters, on September 13, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the U.S. is playing the role of mediator for the restoration of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel. It's not a surprise, but September 13 is an important day for Israel and Palestine.

"Three decades ago, on September 13, 1993, the Declaration of Interim Self-Government Arrangements was signed in Washington between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority of Israel. This declaration is also commonly known as the Oslo Accords. Before the infamous agreement was reached, a series of secret negotiations took place between the two sides in Oslo, Norway.

"Another announcement regarding September... on September 17, 1978, the Camp David Agreement was signed between the Arabs and Israel. This agreement was signed between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, which proved to be the beginning of peace between the Arabs and Israel. 

A screenshot of Qazi Jawed's article

"According to the Camp David Accords, Israel secured its southern borders while the Egyptians received complete protection from Israeli attacks. However, despite the ties between Israel and Egypt at the political level, the people of both countries are still far from each other. Egypt and Israel are still as alien to each other as ever. The majority of Egyptians rejects any rapprochement with Israel until the Palestinians gain an independent state of their own. Therefore, it is peace, but peace is more dangerous than Cold War.

"The U.S. Secretary of State added that an agreement has been reached between Saudi Arabia and Israel regarding normalization of relations, but the Palestinian issue is getting in the way of its completion. Antony Blinken said that there is a deadlock between the two countries on many complex issues, the most important of which is the unresolved issue of Palestine.

"The U.S. Secretary of State further said that normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel and recognizing each other at the diplomatic level will bring peace, stability, and development in the region. It should be remembered that many Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates, have already established diplomatic and commercial relations by recognizing Israel on October 13, 2020, through the mediation of the United States. However, Saudi Arabia made the restoration of diplomatic relations with Israel conditional upon the two-state solution of Palestine and stopping the Jewish settlements."

"Israel... Is Certainly Successful To A Great Extent In Its Shameful Attempt To Distort The Facts By Placing The Blame For The Failure Of The Oslo Accords On The Heads Of The Palestinians; There Is No Doubt That The Palestinian Leadership Is Fully Responsible For Making Bad Decisions On Important Occasions"

"At this moment, let me also mention that the pages of history are witness that the Palestinian leadership and Israel's weak political will became the cause of the creation of the biggest political fraud of modern times, the Oslo Accords. After signing the Oslo Accords at the White House, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat shook hands with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin for the first time; and U.S. President Bill Clinton was also present on the occasion. 

"Arab and Palestinian analysts did not initially give much importance to this agreement, but Jewish think tanks working within Israel paid significant attention to it.  In the outside world, tens of thousands of articles and columns were written on the Oslo Accords, in which the importance of this agreement for Israel used to be highlighted. However, Western writers who criticized this topic seemed to deliberately round off the mention of the Palestinians in the Oslo Accords.

"More or less, all Israeli and Jewish analysts called the deal a 'mistake' or even an 'unexpected disaster' that allowed a 'terrorist organization' to monopolize certain areas of the West Bank. According to them, this agreement poses serious threats to the security of Israel and its residents. Countless analysts strongly condemned Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

"In their view, since the signing of the Oslo Accord, 'Palestinian terrorists' have been responsible for the killing of 1,500 Jews. They often conveniently forget the significantly larger number of Palestinians killed, wounded, and disabled during this same period. They also 'forget' to mention the number of illegal Jewish settlements built on the stolen Palestinian land during this period.

"Israel, which maintains its illegal occupation of Palestinian land by the strength of military force, is certainly successful to a great extent in its shameful attempt to distort the facts by placing the blame for the failure of the Oslo Accords on the heads of the Palestinians. There is no doubt that the Palestinian leadership is fully responsible for making bad decisions on important occasions. Everyone, including the U.S. administration, the European Union, the international and Arab communities, even the Palestinian leadership, is free to level allegations.

"It is quite possible that Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin, and Shimon Peres may have had the desire for the decades-conflicted Holy Land to become a place of peace, may have had a vision in their minds for the prosperity and progress of those living in the broader Middle East. Peace cannot be achieved solely through good desires. There were more critics finding bugbears than exponents of such agreements made on the negotiating table. Israel's 'bloodthirsty' militant-turned-peacemaker Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was shot dead by an Israeli extremist two years after the signing of the Oslo Accords at the White House. After this murder, the new plant of peace started to rot."

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Later Pakistan's Founder, Told Conference In 1937: "[If Britain] Does Not Decide The Palestine Problem With Prudence, Courage And Boldness And Justice, It Will Open The Door To A New Revolution In The History Of Britain; The Muslims Of India Will Give All Possible Help To The Arabs In This Just And Courageous Jihad"

"Here it is not possible to reject this cruel and difficult reality that: whether the Zionist plan is implemented under the watch of the right-wing or the secular government, their eggs and kids will emerge in the form of forcible occupation on Palestinian lands of the West Bank. Its logical conclusion has always come out in the shape of strangling the neck of the real Palestinian state.

"How did the Oslo Accords collapse? You do not have to be a practicing diplomat to know why! Both parties to the Oslo Accords (Israel and the PLO) wasted no opportunity to blame each other.  The deal was viewed with mistrust and suspicion from day one.

"The Second Intifada, the siege of Yasser Arafat, the reoccupation of Palestinian lands by Jewish settlers in the West Bank, Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, the Hizbullah factor, Hamas's control on Gaza, the directionless policies of the Palestinian Authority, the missed opportunity of the Camp David [Accords], the evolving regional and political realities, all contributed to jeopardize the Oslo Accords.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan

"On October 15, 1937, at the annual meeting of the Muslim League held in Lucknow, the Quaid-e-Azam [Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who would later go on to found Pakistan] severely criticized the British government regarding the Palestine issue.

"[Jinnah said:] 'The issue of Palestine has had a profound effect on all Muslims. It has been the policy of the British government from the beginning until now to deceive the Muslims and to take full advantage of the trusting nature of the Arabs. Britain did not fulfill promises made regarding giving full freedom to the Arabs. Rather, what happened was that Britain took advantage by making false promises and imposed itself on them through the infamous Balfour Declaration.

"'And after formulating the policy to create a national homeland for Jews, Britain now wants to divide Palestine into two parts. In this situation, the Arabs' hopes and desires for their own independent homeland will be murdered. I want to tell the British government that if it does not decide the Palestine problem with prudence, courage and boldness and justice, it will open the door to a new revolution in the history of Britain. The Muslims of India will give all possible help to the Arabs in this just and courageous jihad.' This is the real truth. The Israel-Saudi peace deal will be another blow to Palestinian freedom."

Following are excerpts from Farrukh Saleem's article:[12]

"The Recognition Of Israel Will Be In Accordance With The International Tradition And It Will Raise Pakistan's Standing In The Diplomatic Circles Internationally"

"The [issue of] recognition of Israel by Pakistan is a very sensitive and sentimental matter. Hundreds of political, historical, and social factors are at work regarding this. The point which is very important about it is that to ponder over the recognition (of Israel) should be done within the context of the Pakistan's exceptional situation and enormous challenges.

"Should Pakistan recognize Israel? Israel is known because of its advanced technologies, including in agriculture, cyber security, and water management. A diplomatic recognition can open opportunities for trade and exchange of technology, which can benefit the Pakistani economy. Israel's expertise is in counterterrorism and intelligence sharing. Cooperation in this field can boost Pakistan's efforts against terrorism.

"With formal diplomatic relations with Israel, Pakistan can hold direct talks at the diplomatic level, which will ensure wider regional stability and cooperation. The recognition of Israel, among the nations, Pakistan's relations with those countries will grow with which Israel has relations. This will probably strengthen the network of our allies.

"The recognition of Israel will be seen as a step toward normalization of relations in the region [of South Asia] which is caught in tensions and disputes. The thing that is certain is that the recognition of Israel will be in accordance with the international tradition and it will raise Pakistan's standing in the diplomatic circles internationally. Do not forget that Palestine itself has recognized Israel under the Oslo One Agreement."

"The Discovery Of The Deposits Of Natural Gas On A Large Scale In The Mediterranean Sea By Israel Has Opened Exciting Possibilities; By Working Together In The Field Of Energy, Pakistan Can Fulfil Its Domestic Energy Needs"

"Should Pakistan recognize Israel? The discovery of the deposits of natural gas on a large scale in the Mediterranean Sea by Israel has opened exciting possibilities. By working together in the field of energy, Pakistan can fulfil its domestic energy needs, especially in the field of oil and gas. Should Pakistan recognize Israel? When I obtained information the last time, it came to knowledge that 165 of 193 member countries of the United Nations had formally recognized Israel already. Among them, Jordan and Egypt, who have established diplomatic relations with Israel, are worth mentioning.

"Moreover, as part of the 2020 Abraham Accords, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco have all normalized bilateral relations with Israel. Most countries in Western Europe, in North America, in South America, and the Sub-Saharan Africa have diplomatic relations with Israel.

A screenshot of Farrukh Saleem's write-up

"There are five countries out of 193 member states of the United Nations whose passports are not valid for Israel. Among them are Bangladesh,[13] Brunei, Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan.

"On the other hand, Pakistan's well-known history is that it has been supporting the interests of Palestinians and recognizes the state of Palestine officially. Any step regarding the recognition of Israel is viewed as rejection of this goal of unity [with the Palestinians]. Further, the majority of Pakistan's population has been traditionally against the recognition of Israel, and this can create a domestic challenge for any such step. Here, do not forget that Palestine itself has recognized Israel under the Oslo One Agreement."


[1] MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 676, Pakistan's Jewish Problem, March 11, 2011.

[3] Roznama Jang (Pakistan), September 24, 2023.

[4] Roznama Express (Pakistan), September 26, 2023.

[5] Roznama Express (Pakistan), September 26, 2023.

[6] Roznama Express (Pakistan), September 26, 2023.

[7] Roznama Express (Pakistan), September 26, 2023.

[8] Roznama Jang (Pakistan), September 24, 2023.

[9] Roznama Jasarat (Pakistan), September 20, 2023.

[10] Roznama Jang (Pakistan), September 26, 2023.

[11] Roznama Jasarat (Pakistan), September 20, 2023.

[12] Roznama Jang (Pakistan), September 26, 2023.

[13] In May 2021 it was reported that Bangladesh had removed the clause from its passport that excludes travel to Israel. The Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry later said that the ban on travel to Israel remained unchanged., May 24, 2021.

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