Another eight-member delegation comprising religious & social leaders, fashion celebrities, and media personalities has left for participating in Sharaka Tolerance Programme in Israel, has learned.
“Muslim intellectuals from several South Asian countries including Pakistan will gather in Israel for a week-long programme centred around regional and international tolerance, expanding the Abraham Accords, and promoting accurate education about the Holocaust,” said Dan Feferman, Executive Director of Sharaka.
سابق وزیراعظم عمران خان کو مشورہ دیا گیا کہ بھارت اور اسرائیل کا پاکستان دشمن اتحاد توڑنے کے لئے اسرائیل کے ساتھ سفارتی تعلقات قائم کر لئے جائیں عمران خان نے جواب دیا “دل نہیں مانتا”۔
خبر ہے کہ
دبئی میں موجود صحافی سبط عارف کی رپورٹ کے مطابق پاکستانی شہریوں کا ایک اور وفد اسرائیل… pic.twitter.com/YrCfr7hHwO
— Touqeer Kharalتوقیر کھرل (@SajidToqeer) April 30, 2023
Pakistan’s delegation comprises Faiza Shakeel, Mohsen Syed, Danish Amir, Meher Hussain, Sangin Khan Yousafzai, Mudassar Shah, Rehman Buneri, and Abdul Karim Samijo. They will participate in the regional and international conference on tolerance.
The Pakistani delegation is also scheduled to visit Tel Aviv, tour Israel’s Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, and Al Aqsa Mosque.
پاکستان سمیت جنوبی ایشیائی مسلم ممالک کاوفد اسرائیل کے دورے پر روانہ https://t.co/79wjGUcY1m
وفد میں رحمان بونیری، مدثرشاہ، مہرحسین، دانش امیر،سنگین خان یوسفزئی، عبدالکریم (آزا)سمیجو، محسن سید اورفضہ شکیل شامل ہیں pic.twitter.com/IyhFnmn9U8
— Asad Kharal (@AsadKharal) April 30, 2023
Purpose of the visit
The aim of the trip is to facilitate participants to see and explore Israel and transmit what they learn and experience to audiences in Pakistan. This is also aimed at augmenting important debate on whether Pakistan should join Abraham Accords.
This debate of normalizing ties with Isreal surged in Pakistan after Israeli President Isaac Herzog spoke about his meeting with Pakistani and Pakistani American delegation in Jerusalem in May 2022.
“I must say, this was an amazing experience because we haven’t had a group of Pakistani leaders in Israel ever, at such a scope,” Herzog said at World Economic Forum. “That all stemmed from the US-brokered Abraham Accords.”
Pakistan is one of the numerous Muslim countries with no official ties to the Jewish state — though there have been brief overtures in the past, most notably a meeting between Israeli and Pakistani foreign ministers in 2005, following then-prime minister Ariel Sharon’s decision to pull out of Gaza.
In recent years, military training exercises have been conducted alongside Pakistani forces. However, Jerusalem’s increasingly close relationship with India remains a sore point for Pakistan. But the UAE and Bahrain forged relations with Israel in 2020 under the US-brokered Abraham Accords. Sudan and Morocco followed suit.
A sequence of events
Delegations of Pakistani community leaders have been touring Israel as part of a regional peace and foster deeper ties between the two countries over the years. Earlier this March, Karachi-based businessman Fisher BenKhald, disclosed the rare bilateral trade through his Twitter handle. He runs a Jewish kosher certification business for food manufacturers exporting products to destinations worldwide.
Congratulation to Me as a Pakistani
I exported first batch of Pakistan 🇵🇰 food products to Israel 🇮🇱 market
Dates, Dry fruit, Spice single container. My video@CMShehbaz @ImranKhanPTI @BBhuttoZardari @NawazSharifMNS @MaryamNSharif @betterpakistan @MiftahIsmail @tdap_official pic.twitter.com/l4KRqI4oet
— Fishel BenKhald (@Jew_Pakistani) March 28, 2023
“Congratulation to me as a Pakistani. I exported the first batch of Pakistan food products to the Israeli market. Dates, dry fruit, spice in a single container,” BenKhald had tweeted.
Fisher BenKhald was among a group of Pakistanis who undertook a rare trip to Israel last year and visited the Jewish prayer site in Jerusalem known as the Western Wall. The 15-member group of primarily Pakistani Americans, who travelled on their US passports, was organized by an American Muslim women’s activist group in collaboration with an Israeli organization promoting ties with Muslim countries.
The American Jewish Congress eulogized that business and trade have the power to bring ideas and people closer.
“We have seen major steps taken in Israel, Pakistan, and the UAE to expand prosperity and opportunity for everyone in the Middle East,” the American Jewish Congress said in a statement from its New York headquarters.
A new era
Analysts and economic experts have termed this is development as the beginning of a new era. Pakistan and Israel are expected to conclude trade deals through mutual friendly nations such as the UAE. They were of the view that the two countries will formally engage in official trade and investment deals in the coming months.
Non-governmental organization Sharaka emerged in the wake of the 2020 Abraham Accords — a series of normalization deals between Israel and several Arab nations — to promote peace and cooperation in the region, alongside the American Muslim and Multifaith Women’s Empowerment Council.
It is a region-wide project that brings together Arabs, South Asians, and Israelis to build mutual understanding. It claims to promote peace in the Middle East through people-to-people engagement and citizen diplomacy. It has branches in the Arab world, Gulf, Israel, and Morocco with members from the region as well as US, Europe, and Pakistan.