Jakarta: Malaysia has lashed Australia’s decision to recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, describing it as a “humiliation” of the Palestinians and their quest for a homeland.
And late on Sunday, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad personally weighed into the controversy and declared “Jerusalem should remain as it is now and not [be] the capital of Israel” – hours after the Malaysian foreign ministry statement on the “premature” decision.
Dr Mahathir’s direct rebuke of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s policy shift underscores the anger among at least some of Australia’s south-east Asian neighbours over the decision.
The strongly worded statement from Malaysia contrasts sharply with the muted initial response from Indonesia, and underscores the fact that Canberra’s decision has put Australia’s allies, trade partners and neighbours offside.
“Malaysia strongly opposes the decision by the government of Australia to recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” the Malaysian foreign ministry statement said.
“Malaysia firmly believes that this announcement, made before the settlement of a two-state solution, is premature and a humiliation to the Palestinians and their struggle for the right to self-determination.
“Malaysia reiterates its long-standing position that a two-state solution, in which the Palestinians and the Israelis live side by side in peace, is the only viable solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Malaysia will continue to work closely with all partners to find a just, comprehensive and lasting solution to the conflict.”
Dr Mahathir was speaking to reporters during a visit to Bangkok.