Photo by Vincent Thian/AP
This article was written by Dr Abdul Razak Ahmad, Amirun Hamman Azram and Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin.
The situation of the Israeli-Palestine conflict has always been a complex issue. However, our approach to it has never been sophisticated, only relying on humanitarian aid, and not utilising diplomatic tools at its fullest capacity. Malaysia needs to have a new strategy in dealing with the issue. Our position must be elevated beyond mere political rhetoric. The strategy for Malaysia must become the foundation of our new foreign policy direction that is concrete, realistic, morally sound, and achievable.
The first initiative we should explore is to appoint a special envoy for Palestine. We need a dedicated person to represent Malaysia in helping to provide and deliver an active contribution to the resolution of Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The envoy should work very closely with Middle Eastern countries and establish close contact with all parties in the peace process such as the United Nations, the Arab League, and other relevant organisations. The envoy should have physical presence in the region. Such presence will manifest Malaysia’s serious commitment to the Palestinian cause and help develop a deeper understanding with regards to the on-the-ground developments of the situation.
Second, Malaysia must immediately register its interest in aiding the international effort for the rebuilding and the reconstruction of Gaza. Our humanitarian assistance efforts must also be intensified and properly coordinated. The increased number of campaigns launched by the Malaysian public to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Palestine and Palestinian refugees settled in Malaysia is a sign that Malaysia takes great interest in the Palestinian struggle. This must then be turned into our soft power strategy. We believe your office is able to reflect Malaysia’s stance by coordinating these efforts to reach the proper channels and agencies in order to create an impactful difference in the rebuilding of Gaza.
Third, Putrajaya should also make effort to offer treatment to those injured in the violence, especially the children and the women. Many are in need of urgent medical care and rehabilitative treatment and Malaysian hospitals are some of the best-equipped among the Muslim countries. This would further boost our reputation in the field of global health.
Fourth, Empowering and enhancing the Palestinian resistance movement through education should be high on Malaysia’s agenda. The best mechanism to create sustainable change and resistance is through education. We must continue to provide the very best of education and skills to generations of Palestinians. Thus, we wish to propose that Malaysia establish a global endowment for the education of the displaced communities to help provide tertiary education to the Palestinian youths and the youths of other displaced communities. This global Waqaf should be pursued with like-minded countries in order to guarantee its sustainability. We can couple this initiative with the special envoy on Palestine to position Malaysia as the leading player in technical and capacity building.
Fifth, Putrajaya can also take this opportunity to highlight the suffering of the Palestinians under Israel’s prisons, in Malaysia’s future diplomacy with other countries. Palestinians have been the subject of torture, degrading and inhuman treatment in the Israeli prisons. As of April 2021, 4,500 Palestinians are being detained illegally in Israeli prisons for resisting the occupation. They are tortured and put in solitary confinement, suffering from various diseases that they do not receive adequate treatment for, and have been dying as a result. Malaysia must highlight this cruel and inhumane treatment in solidarity with Palestine people as it is fundamental in resisting Israel’s overarching occupation of Palestine.
And finally, Malaysia should diplomatically engage with Egypt to allow continued access for Malaysian humanitarian assistance to reach the Palestinian border. The Rafah Crossing point between Gaza and Egypt has been vital for the continued livelihood of Palestinians. It is the only passage the Palestinians have to the outside world that is not controlled by Israel. Egypt is our biggest ally in ensuring the Palestinians receive our humanitarian assistance.
Malaysia has always been an ally of Palestine. This is a stance in which the Malaysian public remain proud of our country. We have always highlighted the struggles of the Palestinian people, supported them on international platforms, and offered humanitarian assistance to lessen their sufferings. While these efforts have helped in the past, we need to rethink our strategy going forward. Malaysia needs an intensified, and strategic approach in light of the recent developments and the new dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A renewed strategy would position Malaysia as a principal supporter at the forefront of the Palestine cause.