According to recent statements by Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Israeli diplomats will start to renew ties with Muslim nations following the disengagement plan, due to start mid-August, Israeli sources reported.

The Gulf States, Pakistan and Indonesia are among the countries Israel hopes will show increased openness towards Israel following the disengagement.

In a speech he delivered at the Tel Aviv Commercial Industrial Club on Friday, Shalom said the ministry has been ‘conducting diplomatic activities intended to expand the circle of our relations in the Middle East and in more distant areas.’

Haaretz said a businessman from Kuwait who was granted entry to Israel for medical treatment attended Shalom’s lecture.

Israel has full diplomatic relations with Egypt, Jordan and recently Mauritania in addition to a lower-level representation in Qatar.

Israel held some unofficial talks lately with the United Arab Emirates in order to establish representation here, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

Pakistan and Israel are holding low-level talks, particularly through their UN ambassadors. Relations with Indonesia are being handled through the Israeli Embassy in Singapore, Haaretz added.

It is likely that Israel is using disengagement to signal the end of the occupation.  However, local observer say, the Israeli pullout can signal the end of occupation if followed by further withdrawals from West Bank areas and evacuation of all West Bank settlements in a similar manner of that in the Gaza Strip, and the removal of the separation wall.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described Israel’s latest decision concerning the wall around Jerusalem as an Israeli disinterest in peace.