Israel is willing to work towards establishing ties with Southeast Asia’s Muslim majority nations, its ambassador to Singapore said yesterday.
The announcement comes despite their condemnation of Israel’s airstrikes on the besieged Gaza Strip last month.
For 11 days, Israel launched attacks on the blockaded Gaza Strip. Health officials in Gaza say over 250 Palestinians, including 67 children and 39 women, were killed and more than 1,900 wounded in the bombardments.
Muslim-majority nations such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei had urged the United Nations to step in and stop “the atrocities carried out against the Palestinian people.”
In a statement last month, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and the Sultan of Brunei termed Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza part of an “inhumane, colonial and apartheid” policy toward the people of Palestine.
The three countries do not have diplomatic relations with Israel, and have repeatedly called for an end to its illegal occupation of Palestinian territories and for a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders.
Israel’s Ambassador to Singapore, Sagi Karni, said, Israel needs to protect its citizens, but that it has “no quarrel” with any countries in Southeast Asia.
“We would like to expand the circle of peace also, to the Muslim countries here in the region,” he said.
“But we cannot force it upon them,” he added. “It’s up to them to join, and they know that we’re interested, but they also have their own internal political considerations.”
Last year’s normalization deals signed by the UAE and Bahrain, followed by Sudan and Morocco, were denounced by the Palestinians who claimed the states had abandoned a unified position under which Arab countries would make peace only under a two-state solution, negotiations for which have been deadlocked for years.
Source: Palestine Chronicle