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Pakistan denies trade ties with Israel after local Jew’s tweet

Fishel Benkhald went viral after he publicized his first kosher food shipment to the Jewish state.

A mehndi (henna) ceremony for a Jewish wedding in Karachi, Pakistan, 1959. Credit: George and Dinah Reuben via Wikimedia Commons.
A mehndi (henna) ceremony for a Jewish wedding in Karachi, Pakistan, 1959. Credit: George and Dinah Reuben via Wikimedia Commons.

Pakistan denied on Sunday the existence of trade ties with Israel after a Karachi-based Jewish businessman tweeted about exporting food to Jerusalem and Haifa.

Fishel Benkhald, a Pakistani Jew, went viral last week with a tweet about his first kosher food shipment to Israel despite the two countries’ lack of diplomatic relations.

“Congratulations to me as a Pakistani. I exported the first batch of Pakistan food products to Israel market,” he wrote.

He also shared a video clip of his visit to an Israeli market.

“There is no change in the policy,” Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said on Sunday in response to queries from reporters.

Pakistan’s Commerce Ministry denounced rumors of bilateral trade as “sheer propaganda.”

“Neither do we have any trade relations with Israel nor do we intend to develop any,” the ministry said in a statement.

Benkhald converted to Islam from Judaism in 2017. While his Pakistani passport is valid for travel to all countries except Israel, he is the first Pakistani to have officially performed a pilgrimage to the Jewish state with permission from Islamabad.

According to Pakistani authorities, he sent food samples to three businesspeople in Israel via the United Arab Emirates, where they had met at food exhibitions.

The shipment was not supported by the Pakistan government or any other official channel or bank system.

Pakistan has a small kosher industry exporting food to various destinations.

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