Malaysia allays fears on Israel policy

Malaysia has clarified that the participation of five Israeli activists at a conference in Kuala Lumpur on the plight of Palestinians should not be construed as a softening of its position on Israel.

    Israel is one of several countries taking part in the conference

    Following protests from Islamic groups, Foreign Minister

    Sayid Hamid Albar said there should not be any speculation that

    Malaysia would change its policy of refusing diplomatic ties with

    Israel any time soon.

     

    "We only feel that we should listen to Israelis who have views

    similar to ours," he was quoted as saying by the Star newspaper

    on Tuesday.

     

    The three-day conference, which began on Monday, was organised by

    Peace Malaysia, a grouping of non-governmental organisations, and

    attended by delegates from the United States, Israel, India and the

    Middle East.

     

    Albar said Malaysians should learn to differentiate between

    the Israeli government and individual Israelis. 

     

    Asked to comment on the decision by Malaysia's Islamic

    opposition party to boycott the gathering, he said:

    "Although they have decided to withdraw officially, unofficially

    they are here at the conference."

     

    Albar said earlier at a lunch address that it was tough to be

    upbeat about the Middle East peace process after numerous

    breakthroughs in the past turned out to be "false dawns".

     

    Recent developments, including a newly elected Palestinian

    leader and indications of increasing US engagement towards

    revitalising the road map, have provided some hope, he

    said.

    SOURCE: AFP


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