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Indonesian official and Pakistani delegation head to Israel on rare visits, says report

Former head of Pakistan Cricket Board among those visiting, despite the furore surrounding last delegation
Indonesians place a poster picturing the Israeli flag on the street to be run over by passing vehicles in Bandung, 26 April 2022 (AFP)
Indonesians place a poster picturing the Israeli flag on the street to be run over by passing vehicles in Bandung, 26 April 2022 (AFP)

A senior Indonesian official and a Pakistani delegation are on rare visits to Israel, according to Israeli media.

Both Indonesia and Pakistan do not have official ties with Israel. The two countries' parties were not travelling together.

According to i24NEWS, a senior official from Indonesia is visiting to meet officials in the foreign ministry. However, Jakarta denied these reports on Tuesday.

Bagus Hendraning Kobarsyih, an official in Indonesia's foreign ministry, said: "As long as Palestine is under Israeli occupation, Indonesia will not open diplomatic relations with Israel."

He said the visit has "never happened and Indonesia's stance will always be the same", adding that Jakarta remained committed to the two-state solution between Israel and Palestine to end the conflict. Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world.

In December, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reportedly discussed the prospect of normalising ties between Israel and Indonesia during a visit to Jakarta.

Israeli media also reported that an Israeli delegation of technology and trade entrepreneurs and investors had visited Indonesia in August, and that the trade between the two countries had reached a volume of $500m annually.

'People-to-people'

Meanwhile, a Pakistani "peace" delegation is also visiting Israel and is scheduled to meet President Isaac Herzog and senior religious and foreign policy figures, as well as visit the Holocaust Museum.

According to i24NEWS, the delegation includes Nasim Ashraf, who was chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board and also served as minister of state for six years.

The Pakistani delegation comprises nine members. Four of them are currently living in Pakistan, the rest are from the Pakistani diaspora in the US. It includes a journalist from a Karachi news station, and a British-Pakistani imam, i24NEWS reported

Pakistan and Israel do not maintain diplomatic ties. However, the two countries recently joined a US-led naval exercise in the Red Sea, alongside Saudi Arabia, Oman, Comoros, Djibouti, Somalia and Yemen.

Last May, a Pakistani journalist working for a state-run news channel was fired after backlash over his recent visit to Israel.

Israel and Pakistan have made overtures to each other in the past, most notably when the country's foreign ministers met in Istanbul in 2005 following Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

But there has not been any major public push to bring the countries closer. Meanwhile, Israel has grown ties with India in recent years.

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