"In response to Sharon's courageous decision to pull out from Gaza, Pakistan has decided to establish formal ties with the State of Israel
Musharraf was greeted by a standing ovation by hundreds of U.S. Jewish leaders, who gathered to congratulate Pakistani leader for opening public diplomatic contacts with Israel following the disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank.
Musharraf was clearly moved by the reception, saying he "never expected a Pakistani leader to be greeted by this community with this sort of ovation."
The dinner began with two blessings, one Jewish, one Muslim. The imam who gave the Muslim benediction translated part of his words:
"Muhammad was told by the one, almighty God to accept the Jews, the children of Abraham. Almighty, blessed God told the Prophet Muhammad to open a dialogue between Jews and Muslims. I pray to God that he accept our efforts, our prayers and our blessings," he said.
In his speech, Musharraf spoke about Pakistan-Israel relations, and said there is no natural enmity between the two countries.
"Pakistan has no direct conflict with Israel, and we are not a threat to Israel's security. We believe Israel represents no threat to Pakistan's national security. But our people have deep sympathy for the Palestinian people, and their legitimate desire for a state," he said.
"In response to Sharon's courageous decision to pull out from Gaza, Pakistan has decided to establish formal ties with the State of Israel. With the progression of the peace process towards the establishment of a Palestinian state, we intend to take further steps toward normalization, collaboration and the establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel, "Musharraf said.