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Lord Simon Isaac writes that should the Malaysian government continue to support Hamas, the EU should make clear that Kuala Lumpur’s economic ties with the European bloc will suffer.
The shock of Hamas’s sudden attack and incursion into Israel on October 7, which systematically targeted and killed more than 1,300 civilians and triggered a war with Israel, immediately reverberated around the world.
The nearly 100 countries that have issued official statements on the matter fall into three camps: those that unequivocally condemn Hamas’s undeniable act of terrorism and support Israel’s right to defend itself, and those that support both sides. those who condemn Israel’s violence but condemn Hamas, and those who blame Israel and/or openly support Hamas.
Official statements by the state of Malaysia and its Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim echoed the sentiments of the latter group, albeit smaller, blaming Israel for the confrontation, and not only omitted statements critical of Hamas, but also did so at the request of the West. Refused to budge on the matter. countries.
Some of Kuala Lumpur
Indonesia is the only other Muslim-majority nation in Southeast Asia to express similar opinions as Malaysia.
In the Middle East and North Africa region, Iran, Syria and Algeria all expressed their support for Hamas, while Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq and Jordan condemned Israel.
Standing at the opposite end of the spectrum are the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy, whose officials jointly strongly condemned Hamas and pledged their countries’ support for Israel.
EU member states joined a broader Western group of countries as part of a joint statement issued by the European Council.
In a show of unwavering support, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Parliament President Roberta Metzola traveled to Israel on 13 October to express their solidarity.
Kuala Lumpur’s stance is particularly problematic in light of previous reports that revealed a training program in Malaysia from 2012 trained Hamas fighters to fly powered parachutes.
A novelty of Hamas’s coordinated attack on Israel was that several motorized paragliders were launched over Israel, which descended to indiscriminately kill people, including attendees of the Nova music festival, of whom more than 250 – mostly youths – were killed. People were murdered.
Hamas militants killed children, women and the elderly in their homes on the streets of Israel and took about 200 hostages into the Gaza Strip.
Does Hamas support ‘a basic foreign policy’?
Furthermore, apart from the regime in Tehran, Malaysian Prime Minister Ibrahim is the only state leader to acknowledge his ties to Hamas, declaring after the attack that “[Malaysia has] “There is already a relationship with Hamas and that will continue.”
The Prime Minister, his deputy and the Malaysian Foreign Ministry all linked Hamas’ terrorist attack to a legitimate Palestinian resistance movement in order to settle Palestinians’ long-standing historical disagreements with Israel.
According to Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, “the struggle to liberate the land and rights of the Palestinian people will remain the main priority of the Malaysian government’s foreign policy”.
Arguments that Hamas’ terrorist attack was justified by years of frustration with Israel’s security policies toward the Gaza Strip are based on entirely dubious foundations.
Hamas’s contract with the Islamic Resistance Movement from 1988 explicitly established the organization’s aim of eliminating Israel through jihad, while also calling for the killing of Jews and any and all means necessary to resolve the Palestinian–Israeli conflict. Rejected peace initiative.
Support for Hamas and indeed any affiliation with it contradicts the EU’s most cherished standard principles, which have cemented the bloc’s economic power as well as the organization’s reputation as a determined and effective actor in the world.
EU’s democratic principles should also apply to Malaysia
Counter-terrorism is one of the pillars of the EU’s external action and the distinction between the terrorist group Hamas and Palestinian civilians living in the Gaza Strip should be made clear.
The EU’s widely known commitment to promoting democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms in all its external relations, including its foreign economic policies, should also be applied to Malaysia.
While negotiations on a potential free trade agreement (FTA) between Malaysia and the EU have been stalled since 2012, they finalized a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) in December 2022, which will also strengthen cooperation in the areas of trade and investment, energy Happened. As politics.
After a period of decline during the pandemic years, the value of imports from the EU to Malaysia reached €35.3 billion in 2022, accounting for 12.6% of all imports and concentrated in electronic equipment, machinery and nuclear components. In turn, Malaysia’s exports to the EU are expected to grow significantly by 21.8% in 2022.
The EU should emphasize its common values in its economic relations with Malaysia, especially in view of the potential expansion of trade and investment relations between them.
Should the Malaysian government continue to support Hamas, the EU should make clear that it would result in damage to Malaysia’s economic relations with the European bloc.
Malaysia, the latest pariah state
Of course, the associated costs of economic sanctions are political in nature.
The Malaysian government’s insistence on its ties with Hamas and its continued rhetorical support for the extremist organization has resulted in criticism from Brussels and, more broadly, its Western partners including Washington, a longtime ally and one of Malaysia’s largest trading partners.
The recognition of Hamas as a legitimate Palestinian resistance movement by Malaysian government officials not only blurs the lines between militants and Palestinian civilians living in the Gaza Strip but also provides a platform for an organization that has a clear goal of To spread destruction and anarchy.
With the statements by Prime Minister Ibrahim and Deputy Prime Minister Hamidi, Malaysia joins a small, albeit notable group of pariah countries and leaders supporting Hamas, which also includes the radical Islamic regime of Iran, Syria’s war criminal President Bashar al-Qaeda, -People like Assad are included. and Algeria’s pro-Russian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.
Most respected. Lord Simon Isaac, Marquess of Reading, is Chairman of the Barnabas Foundation.
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