Mahathir meets Hamas leaders, says M’sia supports Palestine
12 Malaysian universities will offer scholarships to Palestinians living in Malaysia.
Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad met a delegation of eight leaders from the Islamic Resistance Movement of Palestine (Hamas) in Putrajaya, Malaysia on May 22.
The group held an hour-long discussion with Mahathir on the “situation and struggles” of Palestine, according to Bernama.
The Palestinian group was led by former Hamas chairman Khalid Meshaal.
A Facebook post by Mahathir confirmed that the chairman of the Palestinian Cultural Organisation Malaysia (PCOM) also attended.
Former Hamas chairman thanked Mahathir for standing with the Palestinians
Khalid expressed his gratitude to Mahathir at a press conference after the meeting for welcoming the Hamas delegation and standing with the Palestinians against the “Israeli occupation”.
Khalid said: “Israeli aggression and practices are transforming the identity of the holy city of Jerusalem, while the people of Gaza people are suffering from regular aggression, attacks, starvation and blockade.”
Khalid added that Hamas was also hopeful that Mahathir, as a senior leader of the global Muslim community, would play a part in helping to end aggression against Palestinian people, particularly in the Gaza Strip.
Khalid also highlighted that the discussion with Mahathir touched on the American “deal of the century”, which is a Trump Administration plan to achieve peace in the Middle East.
Khalid said the meeting was a good opportunity to tell the Malaysians that the Palestinians were steadfast and resisting Israeli occupation.
Mahathir condemns Israel, offers scholarships to Palestinians in Malaysia
Mahathir said Malaysia would continue to condemn Israel and support Palestine at a breakfast event organised on the same day by PCOM, according to the Star.
Mahathir said there was nothing ambiguous about Palestinian oppression and that it was a moral obligation to stand up for them.
He added: “We have and will always stand by you (Palestinians). We will not keep quiet for as long as we see the atrocities and injustices committed by the Israeli regime.”
Malaysia will offer scholarships through PCOM for Palestinian students to pursue bachelor, masters, and PhD courses in 12 Malaysian universities.
The scholarships will be funded by a total of 11.47 million ringgit (S$3.77 million) raised by the universities.
Hamas and the PLO
Palestine is currently divided into two territories — the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The West Bank remains under the control of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), which was founded in 1964.
It is led by Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
The Gaza Strip is under the control of Hamas, an Islamist group formed in 1987 as a militant “resistance” against Israel, and subsequently won political power in a US-based election 2006, according to Vox.
Both groups have poor relations with each other.
American “deal of the century”
The “deal of the century” refers to the peace plan that U.S. President Donald Trump has promised will resolve the long-standing conflict between the Arabs and the Israelis.
- Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law,
- Jason Greenblatt, U.S. special envoy and formerly the in-house counsel and executive vice president of Trump Organisation, and
- David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel.
Details of the first part of the plan are expected to be unveiled at an upcoming economic summit in Bahrain on May 25 and 26, backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, London-based Middle East Eye reported.
However, there have also been media reports of unconfirmed details of the plan apparently leaked by an Israeli paper, Middle East Eye also said.
War is a possibility
Here’s a summary:
- Israel maintains general control of Jerusalem, while responsibilities of managing the city are divided up between Israel and “New Palestine”.
- Gaza Strip:
- Egypt offers land near the Gaza Strip for “New Palestine” to construct an airport, factories and serve the Palestinian commercial and agriculture sectors. However, Palestinians will not be allowed to live on these lands.
- A 30-metre high highway is built across Israel to connect the Gaza Strip with the West Bank, with China financing half of the project, while South Korea, Australia, Canada, the US and EU pay the remainder.
- Disarming of Hamas by the Egyptians:
- Should Hamas sign the deal, all weapons must be handed over to the Egyptian authorities. They will then be compensated for their weapons and paid monthly salaries by Arab states.
- Punishment of PLO and Hamas should they refuse to sign the deal:
- In the event both parties refuse to sign the deal, the US will cease funding projects that help Palestinians and will ask other parties to do so as well.
- Should the PLO sign the deal but Hamas refuses to do so, a war would be launched on Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another Gaza-based organisation, with the US fully supporting Israel in its efforts.
A spokesperson for Mahmoud said: “Any plan without a political horizon will not lead to peace.”
Meanwhile, Hamas is seeking to form a supreme body consisting of Palestinian, Arab and Islamic forces to oppose the plan.
Top image from Mahathir Mohamad Facebook.