Malaysia's Prime Minister, Dato' Sri Haji Mohammad Najib, began a "historic" visit to the Gaza Strip on Tuesday and called on prime ministers of other Muslim countries to follow in his footsteps.
Mohammad Najib, his wife, a large number of senior Malaysian officials and an information team arrived in Gaza through the Palestinian-Egyptian Rafah Crossing this morning. Palestinian Prime Minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, received him and they held a joint press conference outside the arrival gate of the Crossing.
The Malaysian Prime Minister described his visit as "historic" since it is the first time that a top Malaysian official has visited the Palestinian territories. "The goal of this visit is to prove truthful solidarity with the Palestinians and their resistance," the Prime Minister said. "It is true that we are thousands of miles away from each other… but we believe in the right of the distorted nation to resist."
The Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, warmly welcomed the visit of Mohammed Najib, his wife and the accompanying delegation and he thanked them, their country and their king. "Malaysia is a civilised country which is leading in the field of development," Haniyeh said. "This visit personifies the spirit of real support and cooperation between the people of the two nations."
Both Prime Ministers alongside the Malaysian delegations and a group of Palestinian senior officials took a tour around the Gaza Strip and looked at the destruction left by the latest Israeli aggression.
In the presence of Ismail Haniyeh and a number of other Palestinian officials including the Education Minister, Mohammad Najib set up the cornerstone of a Malaysian funded vocational school in Al-Zahraa city in the centre of the Gaza Strip.
"We are continuous in supporting the Palestinians and I hope that this visit will lead to more support," he said. "I hope that we have some of the corporeal spirit that we have seen here in order to push us to do more to support in the everyday issues and in your legitimate conflict towards a fully sovereign state."
At the end of his visit, Mohammad Najib praised Palestinian "steadfastness" and said: "We can issue statements while we are there [in Malaysia], but we followed what our hearts dictate. Our hearts told us to come here [to Palestine] in order to salute your steadfastness."
Mohammed Najib stressed that the struggle in Palestine is not an exclusively Palestinian struggle, but is "the struggle of the whole Umma."
Addressing the Palestinian nation, Mohammad Najib said: "You have achieved a considerable moral victory and this deserves much respect. Your courage and superiority pushes us to salute you. Therefore, we praise what you have done in facing the aggressive offensive."
Mohammed Najib also called for other Muslim leaders across the world to follow in his footsteps and visit the Gaza Strip to "support its steadfastness."
He also praised the on-going talks regarding the internal reconciliation between the two main Palestinian factions, Fateh and Hamas. "When you are united, you are stronger in facing your enemy," he said.
Mohammed Najib's political advisor who accompanied him throughout the tour in the Gaza Strip thanked the current Egyptian government for facilitating the visit. He said that this visit "could have not happened if Mubarak was still heading the Egyptian regime."
In turn, Ismail Haniyeh called for more cooperation between Malaysia and the Palestinians in the major sectors. "Malaysia esteems education and we would like more cooperation in this important field. Education is the most successful weapon with which to arm ourselves during our struggle against the enemies if the Ummah," he said.
Commenting on the Israeli Prime Minister's visit to the Al-Buraq Wall (known as the Wailing Wall to Jews) which coincided with the Malaysian Prime Minister's visit to the Gaza Strip, Haniyeh said that Netanyahu was trying to convey the message that he is unconcerned with international support for the Palestinians. However, "the visit by this Malaysian delegation is the ultimate response to his useless plans."
The Malaysian Prime Minister is scheduled, according to his political advisor, to meet Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi, tonight before heading to Davos tomorrow morning.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad