Sayed Zulfi Bukhari, a senior adviser to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, has rejected claims that he paid a secret visit to Israel in November 2020 to meet senior government officials in the country.
Bukhari tweeted on Monday that he “did not go to Israel”, mocking Israeli and Pakistani news sources that earlier reported about his alleged visit to the Jewish state.
DIDNOT go to Israel.— Sayed Z Bukhari (@sayedzbukhari) June 28, 2021
Funny bit is Pakistani paper says I went to Israel based on "Israeli news source" & Israeli paper says I went to Israel based on a “Pakistani source”-wonder who this imaginative Pakistani source is🤔
Apparently, I’m the only one who was kept out of the loop. https://t.co/bcRO3osWMk
The remarks came after the Israeli newspaper Hayom claimed that last November, Bukhari left Islamabad for London in order to fly to Israel, where he ostensibly sat down with Foreign Ministry officials as well as then-Mossad Director Yossi Cohen in Tel Aviv.
The goal of the alleged talks was to relay messages from Imran Khan and Pakistan’s Army Chief of Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Hayom cited an unnamed “source in Islamabad” as saying that Bukhari’s purported visit came following “heavy pressure” from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The newspaper Haaretz has, meanwhile, reported, that if confirmed, the alleged November 2020 visit by Bukhari “would not be the first contact between the two countries”.
According to the news outlet, an Israeli business jet landed at an Islamabad airport in 2018, “staying on the ground for ten hours before returning”.
With no diplomatic relations between Tel Aviv and Islamabad, Pakistan harshly criticised Israel in May for its military actions during the worst escalation of violence in recent years between the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
Palestinian militants launched several thousand rockets toward Israel, which conducted retaliatory strikes against targets in Gaza. In the Jewish state, 12 people were killed and over 50 were seriously wounded during the flare-up, while the Palestinian death toll stands at 256, with more than 1,900 people injured. The warring sides signed on to an Egypt-brokered ceasefire on 21 May.
In 2020, Pakistani Prime Minister Khan told reporters that Islamabad “cannot ever accept Israel as long as Palestinians are not given their rights and there is no just [Palestinian-Israeli] settlement”.
In a separate development last year, the US administration unveiled its long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, which was touted by then-US President Donald Trump as “the deal of the century”.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the proposal out of hand, saying that Jerusalem was “not for sale” and that the deal would be thrown into the “garbage can of history” by the Palestinians.