Israel hints at normalizing relations with ‘fifth Muslim country’

"It will be an interesting country," Akunis remarked.

  • An Israeli minister has hinted towards a fifth Muslim country recognizing Israel.

(Illustration by Mohamad Elaasar)

Israel is working towards normalizing relations with a fifth Muslim state during U.S. President Donald Trump’s term, an Israeli cabinet minister said on Wednesday.

Israeli Minister Ofir Akunis in Jerusalem. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

When questioned if a fifth country could sign up before Trump steps down as president, the Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister, Ofir Akunis, told Ynet T.V.: “We are operating in that direction.”

“I believe there will be a U.S. announcement about another state that is going public with the normalization of relations with Israel,” the minister said.

“It will be an interesting country,” Akunis remarked.

Two main candidates.

Akunis said there were two main candidate states to become the next to move towards regular ties with Israel.

He did not name either yet but said one is in the Persian Gulf and could be Oman but would not be Saudi Arabia.

Further to the east, the other is a “Muslim country that is not small” but is not Pakistan, Akunis said.

Asked if it was Indonesia, Akunis didn’t answer directly but did not rule it out.

Indonesia, the most populous Muslim state, said last week it would not recognize Israel as long as Palestine’s demands remain unmet.

(Reuters / Nir Elias / Pool)

Malaysia has signaled a similar policy.

“Malaysia’s firm stance on the Palestinian affair will not change,” Deputy Foreign Minister Kamarudin Jaffar told the state’s Senate on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Jaffar also said that Kuala Lumpur would not interfere in other countries’ decisions on Israel.

In Dhaka, a foreign ministry official said Bangladesh was uninterested in establishing diplomatic ties with Israel.

“Our position remains the same,” the foreign ministry told Reuters.

On the other hand, Oman has praised the U.S.-brokered diplomatic drive but has not pledged on its own prospects of forging Israel ties.

The White House has brokered reconciliations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco this year.

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