Not-for-profit press monitoring organisation Middle East Monitor has apologised for a report claiming that Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan’s aide Zulfi Bukhari visited Israel, whereas a minister in Tel Aviv has also clarified that the country in Asia that could soon normalise relations with his country is not Pakistan.
As per the details, Bukhari, who is the premier’s special assistant on overseas Pakistanis, tweeted some documents, including a letter by the news media outlet wherein it had categorically acknowledged the reporting error and apologised.
“We have removed the offending item,” the letter read, saying that it had been sourced from several foreign media outlets.
“We accept Mr Bukhari’s refutation of the claims made in the report and sincerely apologise for the inconvenience it has caused,” concluded the letter dated December 23.
The development was followed by an Israeli cabinet minister also confirming that there was a fifth Muslim-majority country in Asia that was likely to soon normalise relations with Tel Aviv, but it was not Islamabad.
Speaking to the Israeli news outlet Ynet TV, Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis acknowledged that there is a potential for two more countries to normalise relations with Israel. He predicted that “there will be an American announcement about another country that is going public with the normalisation of relations with Israel and, in essence, with the infrastructure for an accord — a peace accord”.
One of those countries is reportedly in the Gulf, but he ruled out Saudi Arabia, therefore leaving many to believe it could be Oman. The other country is further to the east of Israel towards Asia, and is a “Muslim country that is not small”.
Okif dismissed the possibility of it being Pakistan, however, which many have suspected following PM Imran Khan admitting that “friendly” nations had been pressuring Islamabad to establish diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv.
Those “friendly” nations are thought to be Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), particularly after Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told the UAE earlier this week that the country “will not and cannot establish a relationship with Israel until a concrete and permanent solution to the Palestine issue is found”.
The attributes described by Okif leave Afghanistan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh as the only remaining Muslim-majority countries that are “not small” and do not already have open ties with Israel.