Never-ending betrayal of the Palestinians

  • Letters
  • Saturday, 15 Aug 2020

Malaysia, unknown to many, was one of the first countries to challenge "apartheid" in South Africa. The late prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman was dead set against the white minority tyrannising the black majority of Africa; what more to put Nelson Mandela and his freedom-loving colleagues on indefinite detention at Robben Island.

Unbeknown to Malaysians too, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, subsequently became the first secretary-general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), with its head office in Jeddah.

But even before Malaysia was fending for South Africa, or, Angola, where Malaysia sent its first contingent of peacekeepers in the 1960s to keep the warring factions at peace, with the help of Cuba, Malaysia was in favour of supporting the Palestinians too.

Indeed, one of the first funds, to help the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) become a fledgeling entity, came from Malaysia with the permission of Tunku Abdul Rahman again in 1967.

Whether Blacks, Arabs, or, Angolans, the foreign policy of Malaysia has always had a central thrust: it is based on principled realism. When the cause is just, Malaysia will be there. This is true in Malaysia's presence in Bosnia in 1992-1994 as it was in Somalia soon after the Cold War in 1989.

Malaysia, however, is doubtful that the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) recent recognition of Israel can lead to any discernible two-state solution that Malaysia supports.

Firstly, current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not shown any interest in a two-state solution. If this formula is not globally supported, UAE - no doubt a strategic country - would have to expend much energy to persuade more Muslim countries to accept its decision, when the focus should be on global Muslim economic revival amidst a global pandemic that is adding one million cases globally every four days.

Secondly, this agreement is the handiwork of Jared Kushner, albeit with the endorsement of US President Donald Trump. Yet, the reputation of Jared in Washington DC is now "Secretary of Failures". Be it pandemic or Sino-US relationship, everything he has touched, has led to failure. When asked by the New York Times how much does he know the Middle East, Kushner answered in an arrogant, if not inane manner: "I have read 23 books in it."

Thirdly, Malaysia is against this decision by any one party in the Middle East to recognise Israel, despite the fact that Egypt and Jordan have done so in the last 26 years. The objections are simple: Despite the goodwill of the two Arab and now the third Arab country, Israel continues with its annexation of West Bank and Gaza since 1967, which is against the Geneva Convention and the many UN resolutions against it.

Finally, precisely because neither President Trump nor his son-in-law Kushner has the depth and expertise to understand the brittle nature of the Middle East, they shouldn't meddle in it at the last quarter of their tenure.

Indeed, what is the point of making an agreement with Israel, only to see Trump potentially failing at his re-election on Nov 3,2020. To be sure, diplomacy is meant to last, not made to break. Trump and Kushner have crossed the thin red line.

The future of UAE is to work with Asian and European Union (EU) countries to give Palestinians their overdue two-state solution. Not to recognise Israel in a way that will make it go through an enforced amnesia of sidelining the plight of the Palestinians completely, to the degree that their well-deserved independence is neglected over the course of time.

Dr Rais Hussin is a supreme council member of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and chairman of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).

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Rais Hussin , Palestinian , Israel , Malaysia , US , UAE


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