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Malaysia considers peacekeeping force for Palestine

October 17, 2023 at 3:27 pm

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim attends the 18th East Asia Summit as part of the 43rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Jakarta on September 7, 2023 [YASUYOSHI CHIBA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said yesterday that he has addressed the notion of deploying peacekeeping forces to Palestine, emphasising that it would require “consensus” among “neighbouring nations.”

Ibrahim’s remarks were made in parliament during a briefing on the latest developments in Israel’s war on Gaza, which has so far claimed the lives of over 2,000 Palestinians and wounded more than 9,000. They were also in response to suggestions that the government has refused to help protect the Palestinian people in their time of need. It is not a “simple decision,” he stressed.

“Certain parties in Malaysia claim that we refuse to send our military forces,” he was quoted as saying by state-run Bernama News. “Our military leaders have also asked me to explain that it is not fair for any quarters to touch on this matter.”

Without any consensus, he explained, aircraft carrying Malaysian peacekeepers or humanitarian assistance will not be allowed to land. “This is not a simple decision to make. So, I hope there will be better understanding… don’t confuse the people.” He called for people to pray for the Palestinians.

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There have been previous calls from Kuala Lumpur for a peacekeeping force in Palestine. In 2009, the then Foreign Minister Rais Yatim brought up the prospect at an emergency meeting at the Organisation of Islamic Conference (as it then was called) in Saudi Arabia in the wake of the occupation state’s military assault on Gaza at the beginning of that year.

“What we would like to see is the formation of a peacekeeping group in that area,” said Yatim, “and this cannot be done without the blessing or overt cooperation of the UN.”

Last week, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov offered to send his soldiers as peacekeeping forces to Gaza, calling on leaders of Muslim-majority countries to “create a coalition and reach out to those who you call friends, Europe and the whole West, so that they don’t bomb peaceful civilians on the pretext of destroying [Hamas] fighters. We support Palestine. And we are against this war, which unlike other conflicts can escalate into something bigger. If necessary, our units are ready to act as a peacekeeping force to restore order and counter any troublemakers.”

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