On the 14th of July, I was given the honour to launch the Hashim Sani Centre for Palestinian Studies, University of Malaya.
It was established on the initiative of its founder-funder, Puan Sri Norma Hashim, daughter of the former Chief Justice of Malaya, the late Tan Sri Hashim Yeop Sani.
According to its Director, Prof Dr. Nazari Ismail, the centre aims to widen the knowledge of Palestinian Studies to achieve freedom, justice, and equality for the Palestinians.
It aspires to be a leading academic centre in this field at the regional and international levels.
In my speech at the event, I articulated two major points about Palestine.
First, the world is currently in an international architecture and system created by the victors of World War II.
That architecture and system is not fair nor equitable and has become antiquated.
Both the architecture and the system became the backdrop that allowed the Palestinian issue to erupt in 1948 and has continued to this day, even becoming increasingly critical day by day.
Israel, with the help of its supporters, continues to be tyrannical, while the Palestinians are increasingly suffering.
Therefore, as we support the Palestinian struggle, we must continue the efforts to reform that international architecture and system.
Secondly, Malaysia’s support for the Palestinian struggle has been continuous since before. Malaysia has no intention of establishing diplomatic relations with Israel.
At the same time, we also need to recognise the existence of the aspirations and the emergence of new aspirations and generation of Palestinian fighters as well as new activism and movements that support it around the world.
One of the new approaches is to declare Israel as an apartheid state. This is especially so since the Israeli parliament passed the Nation-State Bill in July 2018.
It states that Israel is a state for the Jews only; the right to self-determination belongs only to the Jews, and Jewish settlement sites in the West Bank that are deemed illegal by the international community are considered legitimate by Israel.
Reports by authoritative bodies, for example, the Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA), B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch (HRW), and Amnesty International concluded that Israel committed apartheid crimes against the Palestinians.
This is in line with the 1973 Apartheid Convention which defines apartheid as “inhumane acts committed for the purpose of creating and maintaining domination by one racial group of people over another racial group and oppress them systematically.”
Hopefully, the Hashim Sani Centre for Palestinian Studies can increase the awareness, understanding, and commitment of all citizens of the world in supporting the Palestinian struggle.
(Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah is the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Member of Parliament for Indera Mahkota.)