Malaysia should 'flex muscle in call for action against Israel'

Malaysia should 'flex muscle in call for action against Israel'

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia has been urged to use its political power as a member of the United Nations security council and ASEAN chairman to help end the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Norwegian physician and activist Dr Mads Gilbert, who had served in Gaza four times, said Malaysia should capitalise on its global political standing and put concrete pressure on Israel to immediately lift its siege on Gaza.

"Malaysia has a lot of political power but it needs to flex its muscle. I listened to your Prime Minister talk at the UN recently and he said important things about Palestine.

"But we don't need words, we need action," he said in a press conference yesterday.

Dr Gilbert described the siege of Gaza as "a man-made disaster" that affected 1.8 million people, of which 60 per cent were children and youngsters who still suffer from malnutrition, lack of education and infrastructure after their houses were bombed.

"I would send an appeal to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for Malaysia to propose to the security council and ASEAN to institute sanctions and political boycott of Israel until it lifts the siege, finds a political solution and stops the occupation on Palestine," he added.

He later related his experience serving as a medical doctor in Gaza in a two-hour talk to a packed community hall here.

The ambassadors of Norway and Palestine, and pop singer Mizz Nina were also in attendance.

Dr Gilbert said as the world had seen with the end of apartheid in South Africa, boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) was the only legal and non-violent method that proved to be an effective way to end injustice.

The BDS campaign is a global movement against Israel initiated by Palestinian civil society in 2005 to force Israel to comply with international law and Palestinian rights.

Last Thursday, Najib delivered a speech at the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York where he condemned Tel Aviv for its aggression in the occupied territories and called for a permanent end to injustice against the Palestinians.

"Decades of impunity and the systematic dehumanisation of Palestinians have culminated in increasing violence, increasing illegal settlements, and increasing violations of rights. The frustration and anger felt by Palestinians resonates with Muslims worldwide.

"If the world continues to turn a blind eye to the Palestinians' sufferings, we risk another catastrophe in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We will also fail to uphold the right to self-determination, which was at the very basis of the United Nations when it was created 70 years ago," Najib said.

In recent weeks, clashes between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli forces have been reported almost daily at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

In a landmark development on the sidelines of the general assembly on Wednesday, the Palestinian flag was raised at the UN headquarters, after the Palestinian Authority obtained non-member observer status at the world body in 2012.

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