8:12pm 02/11/2023
Don’t let Israel-Palestine issue divide us and hurt our foreign relations
By:Sin Chew Daily

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim told Dewan Rakyat Malaysia had received three démarches from the United States because the country refused to brand Hamas as a terrorist organization.

In one of these occasions, the US State Department summoned Malaysia’s ambassador to Washington Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz on October 18 to state Malaysia’s stance on the Israel-Palestine issue.

As a matter of fact, it was unnecessary for Washington to issue these three démarches, as we have for years maintained a cordial relationship with the Palestinian Authority, and have no diplomatic relationship with Israel.

While we don’t support any form of violence, we do not also think that Hamas fits into the definition of a terrorist organization.

Moreover, Palestine has been effectively divided into two separate administrations–the Gaza Strip controlled by Hamas, and the PLO-controlled West Bank.

PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas asserted on October 15 that Hamas did not represent the Palestinian people, and that PLO was the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

He also opposed the killing of civilians because of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, and urged the release of all hostages held.

So, we can see that even within Palestine itself there is division. While outsiders like us can support righteousness and reject violence, we need not complicate things further by organizing a so-called “Palestine Solidarity Week” at schools, for instance, and allow our students to wield toy guns and feign as jihad fighters.

As a matter of fact, the historical background of the conflict between Israel and Palestine has been highly intricate, and is nothing as easy as who have robbed whom of their homeland.

Is it appropriate to instill such hostility in children whereas even the adults find it hard to get a clear picture of what has actually been going on?

In neighboring Singapore, while they have official diplomatic relationship with Israel, they also maintain good relationship with the Palestinian Authority.

After the onset of the conflict in Israel, Singapore has repeatedly condemned the violence, calling the killing of innocent civilians a major human tragedy, and has urged both sides to move towards truce through negotiation.

Singapore has its own position for that matter, of course, but due to ideological differences prevalent in our two countries, we cannot force anyone to support any side.

Over-enthusiasm in international conflict and skipping the APEC summit will not do the country any good, and may even deprive ourselves of an opportunity to voice up for Palestine.

Today, countries around the world have varied definition for Hamas. Among the countries that see it as a terrorist organization are Israel, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, European Union and Japan, while UN Security Council, China, Russia and majority of Middle Eastern and Muslim countries see Hamas as “resistance fighters.”

As the international community is itself divided over whether Hamas is a terrorist organization, we feel that there is absolutely unnecessary for us to tear up our Malaysian society just because of our different positions in the Israel-Palestine issue.

PM Anwar reminded Malaysians not to politicize the Israel-Palestine conflict and not to let the issue divide our society.

The PM’s position is that the multicultural Malaysian society should see the conflict as a historical and humanitarian issue in which the Palestinian people yearn for liberation from Israeli occupation.

At the same time, Anwar also urged all parties not to exploit the Palestinian situation for their own political gains. He urged Malaysians to remain calm over the issue.

Anwar is currently gathering feedback from other countries on the positions of Asian leaders attending the upcoming APEC forum in San Francisco. He said whether he would attend the summit depends on the information he gathers.

Anyway, APEC has been for years committed to promoting an open multilateral trading system, not allowing the body to develop in the direction of a trading bloc, but to establish a new, open international economic forum.

The informal leaders’ meeting will be held in San Francisco from November 12 to 18, with the slogan “Innovation, Sustainability, and Inclusion” and the theme “Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All.”

Simply put, this is going to be an informal leaders’ meeting on economic cooperation and has absolutely nothing to do with the Israel-Palestine conflict.

It is hoped that PM Anwar will attend the meeting for the sake of the country and interact with other world leaders because Malaysia is now in the midst of an economic recovery and we indeed need more investment inputs.

Over-enthusiasm in international conflict and skipping the APEC summit will not do the country any good, and may even deprive ourselves of an opportunity to voice up for Palestine.


Anwar Ibrahim
Palestine Solidarity Week


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