On Thursday, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri met in Istanbul with his Israeli counterpart Silvan Shalom in what has been described as a breakthrough between the two countries.

They said the meeting was intended to help normalise bilateral relations.
 
But Palestinian Authority officials labelled the Pakistani move as "too premature and very harmful to the Palestinian cause".
 
"We realise that Pakistan is a sovereign country. But Pakistan is also a member-state of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and has certain commitments toward the Palestinian cause," said Abdullah Abdullah, the second-highest ranking Palestinian Foreign Ministry official.

Barred
 
The Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) passed a decision years ago barring Muslim countries that don't have relations with Israel from normalising relations with the Jewish state before the creation of a viable Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. 
 
Abdullah told Aljazeera.net that any Muslim country that normalises relations with Israel at this time would be betraying "Al-Quds al-Sharif (Noble Jerusalem), the Aqsa Mosque and the Palestinian people and its just cause".

Musharraf said a Palestinian
state must be created

Stronger reactions to the Pakistani move came from Muslim religious leaders and resistance groups, including Hamas.

"This is a clear betrayal of the Palestinian cause and the Aqsa Mosque," said Muhammed Hussein, a prominent Supreme Muslim Council official in Jerusalem.
 
Earlier, Hamas political chief Khalid Masha'al attacked the Pakistani government for the meeting while Israel was "tightening the noose on Jerusalem".
 
Friday prayers

Friday speakers in mosques throughout the occupied Palestinian territories denounced Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf.
 
In Dura, 12km southwest of Hebron, Sheikh Nayef Rajoub told thousands of worshipers at Dura's Grand Mosque that "Musharraf was selling out Pakistan's honour, stature, dignity, present and future to the Zionists".
 

The move is "too premature and very harmful to the Palestinian cause"

Abdullah Abdullah,
Palestinian Foreign Ministry official

"It is mind-boggling that as Israel continues to torment the Palestinians and rape their homeland and plots the destruction of the Aqsa Mosque, this American puppet Musharraf is [moving] to recognise the Zionist entity.
 
"Is this his response to Israeli crimes against our people?"

In the Gaza Strip, hundreds of Hamas and Islamic Jihad supporters took to the streets to protest the possible normalisation of relations between Pakistan and Israel.

Musharraf

Pakistan's president said on Saturday that official recognition of Israel will occur only after a Palestinian state is created.

"Pakistan will not recognise Israel until the establishment of an independent Palestinian state," Musharraf told a high-level meeting, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.

Islamabad has said Israel must abandon all other territory it captured in the 1967 Middle East war, and clear the way for an independent and sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem, known in Arabic as al-Quds, as its capital.