Recent comments by Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim have demonstrated yet again how issues related to Israel continue to divide this majority-Muslim country – and could influence the country’s next national election.Here is some Malaysian reaction:
In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Anwar responded to the question of whether he would open diplomatic ties with Israel by stating his “support” for “efforts to protect the security of the state of Israel,” while at the same time backing the “legitimate rights of the Palestinians.” He stopped short of saying he would establish diplomatic relations between the two states – what he describes as a “tricky” issue – and stated that any change to the status quo would remain contingent on Israel recognizing the aspirations of the Palestinians.
Malaysia is one of three Southeast Asian nations including Indonesia and Brunei that does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, though limited economic ties exist between private companies in both countries.
“Some refuse to recognize the state of Israel,” he said, “but I think our policy should be clear – protect the security [of Israel] but you must be as firm in protecting the legitimate interests of the Palestinians.”
The comments triggered a storm of debate and criticism, with members of the ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO) and other groups accusing the leader of abandoning the Palestinian cause – an emotive cause long-supported in the majority-Muslim Southeast Asian nation.
Lawmakers called on Mr. Anwar’s opposition coalition to release an official statement on the issue, while president of the right-wing Malay group Perkasa Ibrahim Ali said he would raise the issue in Parliament.
Mr. Anwar responded by saying he supported a “two-state solution” with Palestine, a policy he said was no different from the official stance adopted by the United Nations and Malaysia itself.
“I am issuing a stern warning to anyone trying to twist my statement just so that they can say that I have betrayed the aspirations of the Palestinian people,” he said in a statement to the press. His party’s stand “is to defend the rights of whoever it is that has been victimised,” the statement said.
Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's support for Israel's security efforts is a signal to the Zionist regime and the United States that he is their man.More proof we Jews really do control the world.
With Malaysia's general election nearing, Anwar is trying to gain the backing of powerful countries in order to come to power, although he has to go against his party's struggle for human rights.
Former Parti Keadilan Rakyat deputy president Dr Chandra Muzaffar said Anwar's statement to The Wall Street Journal sent a clear message that he was in favour of US lobbyists and Zionist interests.
"Anwar understands that for the US, as far as Arab-Israel conflict is concerned, defending Israel matters most. And he knows that US lobbyists judge other countries' leaders based on their stand on the conflict.
"By coming out with such a statement, furthermore in an interview with the The Wall Street Journal, which is owned by Zionist media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Anwar is telling them that he is a man whom they can depend on," Chandra told the New Straits Times yesterday.