Israel president confirms he met delegation of Pakistan expatriates

DAVOS/ISLAMABAD: Days after a delegation comprising members of the Pakistan-American community visited Israel on a tour which caused a stir back home, the nation’s president confirmed he held a meeting with the delegation but stopped short of revealing the identity of the participants.

The 15-member delegation, which included Anchor Ahmed Quraishi of Pakistan Television (PTV) and Pakistan-Israel Judaist Fischel BenKhald, was led by two civil society groups and visited Jerusalem ostensibly to promote interfaith harmony primarily between the two religions.

The tour was organised by the American Muslim and Multifaith Women’s Empowerment Council (AMMWEC) and Sharaka, a group founded in the wake of, and seeking to strengthen, the 2020 Abraham Accords — a series of normalisation agreements between Israel and Arab nations.

Interestingly, Pakistan’s passport includes a warning it is valid for all countries except Israel. But Qureshi and BenKhald were able to enter, and return from, Israel on their green passports. There, they held a “private meeting” with president Isaac Herzog.

Speaking at World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Herzog confirmed he received the delegation “a couple of weeks ago”.

“[…] they are proud Pakistanis, together of other countries in the region, And, I must say it was an amazing experience because we haven’t had a group of Pakistani leaders in Israel ever in such scope,” he told the summit.

“And all that stemmed from Abraham Accords, meaning Jews and Muslims can dwell together in the region,” he said.

Anila Ali, a dual US national author, shared a picture with President Herzog following the meeting.

“I’m honored to be the first Pakistani & American to present a book, an eyewitness account of the #Pakistan movement written by my father, Qutubuddin Aziz, to the President of Israel, @Isaac_Herzog. The president’s warmth & grace humbled me,” she tweeted.

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