The letters were published as Malaysia's ruling party and the pposition have recently been accusing each other of supporting diplomatic ties with Israel.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, right, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
|Photo by: Tess Scheflan / Jini|
Mahathir Bin Mohamad, who served as Malaysia's prime minister in the 1990s, is the former head of the ruling party. In preparation for the upcoming elections, the ruling party launched an attack on the leader of the opposition, Anwar Ibrahim, claiming that he supports establishing ties with Israel, at the expense of the Palestinians.
Ibrahim then dispelled the allegations by revealing the letters, and accused the ruling party of hypocrisy.
The three letters that were published on Wednesday were sent in response to letters from Israeli prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Ehud Barak to Mahathir Bin Mohamad. The letters provide a look into diplomatic efforts to promote dialogue between Israel and Malaysia, which have thus far failed to bear fruit.
The first letter was sent to former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in December 1993, about two and a half months after Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed the Oslo Accords.
Mahathir, who sent the letter to the "Israeli Prime Minister's Bureau in Jerusalem," greeted Rabin, expressed support in the Oslo Accords, and even offered to donate money to the new Palestinian Authority.
"Malaysia as a matter of general principle is prepared to develop relations with Israel at the appropriate time," he wrote. "In the meantime, we would like to see tangible progress in the implementation of the peace agreement." At the end of the letter, Mahathir added in handwriting, "I look forward to normal relations with Israel."
A little more than three years later, in March 1997, Mahathir sent a similar letter to then prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Two months prior, Netanyahu sent a letter to Mahathir, updating him on the situation in the region. As opposed to the cordial letter he sent Rabin, this time Mahathir evoked more unpleasant tones in his letter to Netanyahu.
Mahathir called on Netanyahu to allow international mediation between Israel and the Palestinians and used as an example the international arbitration that took place between Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore regarding the maritime border. He also compared the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to efforts to instill coexistence between the native residents of Malaysia and the immigrants.
"The important point I would like to stress is not to take what already belongs to others even though historically they may be yours," he wrote. "Lately, Israel has been pulling down Arab dwellings in order to erect houses for Israelis. The
whole world, including your ally, the United States, condemns this. But Israel has gone ahead."
Mahathir harshly criticized Netanyahu and blamed him for the diplomatic freeze at the time.
"What you are doing now is against the spirit and the letter of the peace process agreed to by your predecessor," he wrote. "How can we trust Israel if a change in the government negates solemnly given undertakings by a Government of Israel... To have peace you have to make sacrifices. The Palestinians no longer demand the elimination of Israel… We are ready to have economic and technological cooperation with Israel but we cannot do so yet because you have not honoured commitments made by a legitimate Government of Israel."
The third letter was sent in June of 1999, several weeks after Ehud Barak's victory in the elections. This time, the letter was sent to the bureau in Tel Aviv. As opposed to the letter to Netanyahu, the missive to Barak was a little more positive, but after the cordial greetings, Mahathir proceeded to convey harsh diplomatic messages.
"We believe that if the peace process is to be salvaged, sincere and effective steps must be taken to honour commitments," he wrote. "it is crucial for Israel to be more accommodating… It is therefore timely that Israel respond positively… The alternative, I am afraid, would be a permanent state of conflict and regional instability extending into the next century… Any country that forcibly takes over land and properties of others, or demolishes dwellings belonging to others in order to set up its own settlements cannot be said to be sincere in wanting peace."
Mahathir concluded his letter to Barak and wrote, "The world looks forward to Israel under your leadership, to push forward the peace process with true determination. It is my sincere hope that the attainment of a comprehensive settlement in the region would allow Malaysia to realistically envisage a positive move towards the establishment of normal relations with Israel."
The Malaysian government explained Wednesday why it had published the letters. "I wish to state that as a matter of policy, Malaysia has consistently over the years publicly supported the struggle of the Palestinian people… for the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state," the Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said in a statement.
"The contents of these letters reflects Malaysia's strong and principled stance against Israel's illegal actions and atrocities that had undermined the peace process."
He said that former prime minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad had never expressed support for Israel or readiness to establish diplomatic relations with it.
"Malaysia's readiness to consider establishing relations with Israel is also contingent upon Israel's implementation of all the requirements as stated in the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions, including Palestine's submission to become a full member of the UN on the basis of the 4 June 1967 borders, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif (East Jerusalem) as its capital."
Does Anifah Aman support the existence of the independent and sovereign state of Israel?
Cannot have double standards, Datuk Seri.
You can't support one cause and deny the existence of the other.
And in any case, Asean doesn't have a common foreign policy stance on Israel.
Nor does Asia as a whole.
Seems to me that Dr M took a gamble on Barak, leaving his successors to deal with Netanyahu.
Tough titty, that.
I doubt that Israel is any hurry to make nice with Malaysia, seeing as it already has China AND India AND Japan AND S Korea in it's corner.
you can write whatever truth, but anuwar , being a bigot that he is and also all his follower will still says that you are conspiring and making stories.
The truth is we were misled by him.ReplyDelete
Why MM so softie when he wrote the letter. I always see him scream and shout at the world stage critising the Israel. You call this 'true thoughts' ah. You want to, as a chinese proverb says 'con the ghost to eat tofu (bean curd). My 12 years old son also don;t believe you lahReplyDelete
This my friend is what we call "diplomacy". Pakatan Rakyat should learn this skill instead of mouthing and bitching every tom, DICK and harry who are not with them.Delete
Sooner or later this kind of approach will only fail.
You can be real funny sometimes. Do you even take you're self seriously?ReplyDelete
Just read K. Suresh nonsensical open article posted in Malaysia-Chronicle. I think Suresh should be the FM if PR takes over Putrajaya after GE13th.
Seriously speaking who is Suresh? Is he the de-factor FM as he is not a Malaysian diplomat to speak his mind on this important foreign policy issue?
We would like to hear from FM Anifah Aman before this issue becomes "a hot potato, roasted and twisted with Anwarism and his clowns.Please speak up Dato Anifah from the basic guiding principle of our foreign policy dictated by all our PMs and now Najib Tun Razak.
The mahathir latter and Anwar statement on state of Isreal is the same.Both are not denying the existence of state of Isreal.Not like the stupid Hamas leader who mislead his people and telling them we must destroy Iareal.Destroy with what Fire craker?ReplyDelete
And I hope the Malay leader dont continue to fool your kampong folk.
A desperado, cornered by his own folly will do anything to 'save face'.ReplyDelete
But his desperate followers, especially the PAS fools idolises him.
A GOOD MAN DOES NOTHING.
Hope to see more truth to be revealed on how this hypocrite damaged our country during his administration.ReplyDelete
Mahaguru turun Padang setelah anak murid kepercayaan ye salah tafsiran ilmu yg Mahaguru turunkan..apacara sekalipun Mahaguru tahu dimana kelemahan anak didikannye...kita tunggu siapa yg tewas di gelangang persilatan politik ini...hanya yg benar Dan haq Akan senantiasa berada dlm LIndungan Allah SWT.ReplyDelete
Anwar think we are stupid and people cannot piece it together. Now pm of Palestine and Hamas have denied anwars stand where is he is going to hide? Oops. Don't have to. He has too many gullible fools to defend him blindly.ReplyDelete
Why MM so softie when he wrote the letter. I always see him scream and shout at the world stage critising the Israel. You call this 'true thoughts' ah. You want to, as a chinese proverb says 'con the ghost to eat tofu (bean curd). My 12 years old son also don;t believe you lah
Well Mr. Anon, MM was not being a softie. He is just a guy with manners. I guess only ppl with manners recognize it when they see it. You should learn a thing or two about it tho, seeing that you have a kid and all