EXCLUSIVE: Fake news claims over 'secret' Pakistan-Israel meet

Sources on both the Israeli and Pakistani side told the JC that the rendezvous never took place


Former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen did not attend a supposed secret meeting with representatives of the Pakistani government, the JC can reveal.

The Pakistani businessman who reportedly attended the rendezvous also vehemently denied the claims.

Numerous media outlets alleged this week that a covert meeting between the two sides took place in Israel last November, reports now feared to be fake news.

British news outlets suggested that a “productive” liaison between Cohen — who stepped down as the head of Mossad last month — and Pakistani adviser Zulfikar Bukhari had gone ahead after pressure from the UAE.

The reports raised hopes that nuclear-armed Pakistan, which has the world’s fifth-largest population, was considering joining the list of nations that have normalised relations with Israel under the Abraham Accords.

But top Israeli sources confirmed that contrary to the reports, Mr Cohen had no knowledge of the meeting and did not attend it.

And Mr Bukhari told the JC that the reports were entirely false. "[The story is] Completely fake and made up," he said. "All sources are Islamabad-based. It's a made up story."

Referring to British newspapers who reported the meeting based on sources close to him, he said: "They should reveal the source. Making up stories shows their lack of respect for their profession."

The controversy began this week with a report in Israel Hayom alleging that Mr Bukhari had met with officials from Israel’s foreign ministry, together with Mr Cohen, in Tel Aviv.

This was followed by further articles in the Israeli press saying that Mr Bukhari had flown from London to Israel for the talks, using his British passport.

The object of the meeting was reportedly for Mr Bukhari to pass on messages from Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan and army Chief of Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Mr Bukhari took to Twitter to deny the claims, writing:

“Funny bit is Pakistani paper says I went to Israel based on ‘Israeli news source’ and 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.”

Despite his vehement public denials, on Tuesday the Jewish News reported that his meeting with Mr Cohen “went ahead”, citing a “source close to Bukhari”.

The paper added that the rendezvous had become “the subject of further discussion in Pakistan after it took place”.

Israel and Pakistan — which has not officially recognised the Jewish State — are due to take part in a joint naval exercise hosted by the US Sixth Fleet and the Ukrainian navy in June and July next year.

The war games will involve 32 countries which are either Nato members or Black Sea states. These will include Egypt, Morocco, the UAE, Australia, France, Denmark and America. Pakistani ships will not, however, take part.

In the past, jets from the Israeli and Pakistani air forces have together participated in the United States’ advanced aerial combat training exercises known as ‘Red Flag’.

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