KUALA LUMPUR: The issue of sending a peacekeeping mission to Palestine will be brought up at the coming Asean defence ministers meeting, says the Defence Minister.
"I will bring the matter up as a side topic during the Asean Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) next week.
"We need to get the collective voice of Asean based on the concept of Asean centrality as we can’t do it on our own.
"We will look into it further if Asean agrees to a peacekeeping mission under the banner of the United Nations (UN)," said Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan during his ministerial replies in Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday (Oct 31).
The ADMM is scheduled to be held next month in Indonesia.
Mohamad was responding to a suggestion by Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim (PN-Arau) that a peacekeeping mission be proposed through the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) rather than under the UN.
Mohamad stressed that the issue of Malaysia's involvement in peacekeeping missions comes under the purview of the Foreign Ministry.
"It’s a foreign affairs matter that Wisma Putra should handle.
"We at the ministry and armed forces will only act based on what is decided.
"Just decide, and we will be there if there is a mandate which allows us to do so," he said.
Mohamad acknowledged that there had been recent calls from several lawmakers for Malaysia to send a peacekeeping mission to Palestine.
He added that a non-governmental organisation had even protested at the entrance of the Defence Ministry’s complex last Friday, calling for a peacekeeping mission.
"The decision to send troops unilaterally to a conflict area is difficult.
"It requires careful consideration from various parties, including the Foreign Ministry, and the views of surrounding nations affected by the crisis.
"More importantly, there needs to be a clear mandate from the UN," he said.
Earlier, Mohamad informed the House that Malaysia had been involved in 37 UN missions since 1960, either as observers or peacekeepers.
He said the armed forces are currently involved with a UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon and four missions as observers in Congo, Sudan, Western Sahara and Yemen.