Why Malaysia recognises Hamas and what it means for US ties

By RockedBuzz 8 Min Read

Malaysians march to protest outside the US embassy in support of the Palestinians in Gaza, as the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on October 28, 2023. (Photo: Reuters)

Malaysians march to protest outdoors the US embassy in assist of the Palestinians in Gaza, because the battle between Israel and Hamas continues, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on October 28, 2023. (Photo: Reuters)

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia unexpectedly jumped into the intense politics of the struggle between Israel and Hamas when Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim vowed to keep up relations with Hamas even when his authorities got here underneath strain from outdoors. Anwar has develop into some of the vocal leaders in publicly criticizing Israel, calling its navy operations in Gaza “the peak of barbarism”.

Although political observers say he’s widespread at dwelling by interesting to the Muslim majority, it places Malaysia at odds with the United States, its third-largest buying and selling associate. Here’s a more in-depth have a look at the historical past behind Malaysia’s place.

Is the Malaysian authorities pro-Hamas?

While the federal government has not totally declared it is pro-Hamas, it maintains ties and reserves the proper to strategy the group — listed as a terrorist group by the US and the European Union (EU) — to seek out options. on the continuing disaster with Israel. Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, killing round 1,400 folks together with civilians and troopers.

Anwar advised Parliament in October that Palestinians in Gaza have been “imprisoned for the previous twenty years within the largest open-air jail on the earth”. The Southeast Asian nation sees Hamas because the legitimately elected chief of Gaza, Anwar mentioned, though no elections have been held within the enclave since 2006.


Muslims carry out a particular prayer throughout a solidarity assembly to indicate assist for the Palestinians, amid an escalating battle between Israel and Hamas, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on October 24, 2023. (Photo: Reuters)

Malaysia has lengthy supported the two-state resolution, which calls for Israelis and Palestinians to divide the Holy Land into separate unbiased nations. In his opening speech on the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) in September, Anwar got here out towards oppression across the globe, together with “troubles” towards the Palestinians and “striping” their land – measures which he mentioned was a problem towards the peace dealer. Hamas, which has a historical past of suicide bombings, has been fast to stay to its said mission of destroying the state of Israel and different Palestinian leaders have advocated peaceable coexistence.

How does Malaysia assist the Palestinians?

Israel responded to the Hamas assault on October 7 with airstrikes and navy operations within the Gaza Strip that it says are geared toward destroying the group. At least 10,000 Palestinians have been killed, based on the Hamas-run well being ministry. Malaysian political leaders participated in pro-Palestine rallies and mentioned assist for the Palestinian trigger in Parliament. The Malaysian ministry of schooling organized a Palestine Solidarity Week program on the faculties and schools it oversees.

The Malaysian authorities manages a Humanitarian Trust Fund for the People of Palestine, which has about 81 million ringgit (US$17 million) as of October 19, on the way in which to its 100-million-ringgit aim. It is earmarked for medical support, meals and primary wants in Gaza and any Palestinians affected by the struggle, based on Anwar.

The Malaysian and Palestinian authorities preserve reciprocal embassies. After Hamas took management of Gaza in 2007, former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was among the many first heads of state to go to. Another former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, posted clips of a dialog in October with Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh, who requested him for assist in shifting the West’s and Israel’s narrative. Anwar additionally knowledgeable X that he had a telephone dialog with Haniyeh, expressing Malaysia’s assist for the Palestinian folks.


Malaysians step on photos of Israeli President Isaac Herzog and the nation’s flags as they protest outdoors the US embassy in assist of Palestinians in Gaza after an explosion at a hospital in Gaza, because the battle between Israel and Hamas continues, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on. October 20, 2023. (Photo: Reuters)

What is Malaysia’s place on Israel?

Israel supported newly unbiased Malaysia’s entry into the UN in 1957 and traded with the Southeast Asian nation. Malaysia’s first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, has begun a coverage of avoiding formal diplomatic ties with Israel because the Southeast Asian nation seeks to bolster its Islamic picture.

Currently, Malaysian passports include the inscription “this passport is legitimate for all nations besides Israel”. Israeli passport holders are additionally restricted from coming into Malaysia with out permission.

Does faith play a task in Malaysia’s place?

Malaysia’s international coverage emphasizes the “solidarity of the Ummah”, or the Muslim group, and some political analysts say Anwar could also be boosting assist for the Palestinians partly to guard his Islamic credentials.

The prime minister mentioned he raised the Palestine difficulty throughout his visits to Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in October. He additionally mentioned that some Muslim nations agreed to an emergency assembly of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on the matter.

At the identical time, he emphasised that the struggle is a humanitarian disaster and “Palestinian Christians have been victimized simply as a lot as their Muslim brothers and sisters.” Non-Muslim politicians in Malaysia have proven assist for the Palestinians in Parliament and in rallies.

How does the typical Malaysian really feel in regards to the struggle between Israel and Hamas?

Citizens held road protests for Palestine, together with protests led by Anwar and attended by an estimated 16,000 folks.

Malaysians have additionally boycotted quick meals institutions seen to have ties to Israel. After footage circulated on social media displaying McDonald’s Corp eating places in Israel distributing meals to troopers, its Malaysian subsidiary issued a press release saying it is 100% Muslim-owned and the incident doesn’t mirror its values. Starbucks Corp has additionally been the goal of a boycott in Malaysia.


A shopping center is adorned for Christmas celebrations in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (file picture)

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