Munawar Hassan, secretary-general of Jamaat-e-Islami (Islamic Party), said the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza as a "farce" and said Pakistan's stance of not recognising Israel must continue until there was a complete withdrawal from Palestinian lands.

Hassan said the six-party opposition alliance his party leads would stage a day of protest on Friday against the meeting between Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri and his Israeli counterpart in Turkey on Thursday.

Kasuri said after talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom in Istanbul that Islamabad had decided to engage Israel diplomatically in recognition of its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. "We will greet Mr Kasuri with black flags when he arrives back," he said.

Pullout farce

 

"The evacuation from Gaza is just a farce," he added. "It's as good as robbers entering somebody's house forcibly and than leaving half of it after many years."

"The evacuation from Gaza is just a farce. It's as good as robbers entering somebody's house forcibly and than leaving half of it after many years"

Munawar Hassan,
Secretary-General,
Jamaat-e-Islami (Islamic Party)

The Jewish state has to date been frozen out diplomatically by much of the Muslim and Arab world and Shalom said Israel hoped to use the meeting to open new channels of dialogue.

He said Israel hoped it would lead to full diplomatic relations with Pakistan, but this would have to be done step by step.

Pakistan has been a staunch supporter of the Palestinians and an end to Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories.

The Istanbul meeting comes in the run-up to plans by Pakistani Musharraf to address an interfaith gathering organised by the Council for World Jewry during a visit to New York this month to attend the UN General Assembly.