PETALING JAYA: The Asean regional coalition of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for Palestine has backed the government's move to ban Israeli athletes from participating in sporting events in the country.
"The Asean regional coalition of NGOs for Palestine gives its full weight of support to the Malaysian government's stance on banning the Israel's athletes from entering Malaysia for the 2019 Para Swimming Championship," it said.
The NGOs added that Israel is an apartheid state and has violated international laws on human rights which has victimised millions of Palestinians with impunity.
"Malaysia took a consistent position in supporting the Palestinian cause and this is a stance that all civil societies in this region should fully recognise and support," it said in a statement on Saturday (Jan 19).
The coalition also said the Jewish stance against Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was a mark of recognition towards the premier that he was a regional leader that "spoke both in words and deeds to support the Palestinians".
"As civil societies at a regional and international level, we are expressing our commitment to give our full backing to Dr Mahathir to not budge from his position," it added.
The coalition also condemned the International Paralympic Committee's (IPC) remarks, saying that it did not respect Malaysia's right to exercise its condition to allow any foreign participant to enter the country.
"Israel is an illegal state and no Malaysian passport holder has the legal status to enter Israel, and likewise no Israel passport holder can enter Malaysia," it said.
The coalition added that the IPC is politically complicit with a rogue nation with a record of genocide and violations of all international laws and UN Resolutions if it chooses to change the venue of the World Para Swimming championships.
Swimmers from some 70 countries are expected to compete in the July 29-Aug 4 World Para Swimming championships in Sarawak, an important milestone towards next year's Tokyo Paralympics.
However, Israeli athletes have been barred from participating in the event.
With the ban in place, Israel has condemned Malaysia's decision, adding that the decision was inspired by Dr Mahathir's "rabid anti-Semitism".
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon has called on the IPC, which is organising the competition, to change the venue if it cannot persuade Malaysia to lift the edict.
The IPC has said that it was "bitterly disappointed at the stance of the Malaysian government" and that the IPC governing board would discuss the matter at a meeting in London next week.