Malaysia is not a playground for Israel-Hamas or any other conflict – Middle East Monitor
Malaysia supports the Palestinian cause in the Middle East and opposes Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands in the post-1948 era. The government in Putrajaya has never maintained diplomatic relations with Israel, but has agreed to a peace plan based on the occupying state’s adherence to the 1949 Armistice Line ( “Greens”) that was in place in 1967 to achieve a two-state solution. This implies that the capital of the Palestinian state will be East Jerusalem, which Malaysia also supports. This support for the Palestinians extends to international forums regardless of the political factions involved; Fatah and Hamas are treated fairly by the Malaysian government, although the official Palestinian diplomatic mission in Kuala Lumpur reports to the Fatah-led agency in Ramallah.
Hamas’ influence has increased in Malaysia since the resistance movement was formed as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1980s. There are many Brotherhood supporters among the Muslim population in Malaysia, making the country a safe target for Hamas and its supporters, along with Turkey, Iran and Qatar. The number of Palestinian students in Malaysia has increased, particularly from Gaza.
Malaysians will never forget the 2018 murder of a Palestinian lecturer in Kuala Lumpur. Fadi Mohammed Al-Batsh, an electrical engineer from Gaza, was shot dead by two motorcyclists. Has’s family alleges that the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad was involved in the murder. Hamas acknowledged that al-Batsh was a member of the movement, in whose military branch he was called “commander”. Avigdor Lieberman, then Israel’s defense minister, routinely denied Israeli involvement in the murder but claimed the professor was the designer of the Hamas missile systems.
On September 28 this year, a Palestinian from Gaza was rescued by Malaysian police officers in Selangor. According to that New Straits times (NST), the Mossad was behind the kidnapping of the individual, prompting the Royal Malaysian Police to call editor Farrah Naz Karim to investigate. A related but unconfirmed report found that 11 Malaysians, including a woman, were recruited by the Mossad and trained in Europe before kidnapping Omar ZM Albelbaisy Raeda. He is a computer programmer and is considered a member of Hamas. Another Palestinian apparently managed to escape the kidnappers and contact the police. Officials raided a chalet in Hulu Langat and the Palestinian kidnapping victim was freed. Once again, Mossad and its agents in Malaysia were mentioned in the indictment.
That NST said that Raeda was interrogated about his computer skills, knowledge of Hamas computers and knowledge of known members of the Al-Qassam Brigades, the movement’s military wing. hairnet in Israel reported that he is an Android software developer and moved to Turkiye before moving to Malaysia.
Malaysia’s Interior Ministry has launched an investigation into Mossad’s alleged involvement in the kidnapping. Minister Hamzah Zainuddin said the government would act if claims that Mossad agents were working in the country were true. At the time of writing, the Royal Malaysia Police Force has not been able to determine whether Mossad was involved in the kidnapping of Palestinians. Officials have warned the investigation is ongoing and urged the public to stop speculation and public disorder. Social media has been awash with “news” about Mossad and its presence in Malaysia, as well as the agency’s alleged association with the political opposition. There is a lot of fake news about it. Additionally, the news in Malaysia is becoming politicized as the country moves towards its 15th general election and so far there has been no review of the News Straits Times Reports on the Mossad in Malaysia.
Nonetheless, the reports have been covered by other media outlets, including Israel, although investigations are still ongoing. Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri is awaiting a police and National Security Council report on the Mossad allegations but has given reassurances on the country’s security.
In the meantime, Al Jazeera has claimed that a “well-informed” Malaysian source has confirmed that a “Mossad cell” has been uncovered in the country, apparently to spy on sensitive sites, including airports, and try to break into state-run electronics companies. Again, this has not been checked, although the Jerusalem Post has stated that it is Mossad policy to attack Hamas operatives anywhere.
The alleged Mossad operation in Malaysia strongly suggests that intelligence agencies operate around the world, meaning that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – and particularly Israel’s conflict with Hamas in Gaza – has the potential to spill over into other regions. Although Malaysia supports the Palestinians in their legitimate struggle for a viable, independent state, it does so in accordance with UN resolutions. This is Malaysia’s official foreign policy, regardless of any support for Fatah and Hamas. The government does not recognize the State of Israel in its foreign policy and Malaysians are not allowed to visit the occupying state; Israeli citizens are also not allowed to enter Malaysia. Yet Malaysia’s foreign policy does not view Israelis as enemies or incite hatred towards their country.
Our country looks at Israel’s belligerent Zionism and apartheid against the Palestinians as unacceptable and clearly against international law. Malaysia’s foreign policy could therefore change direction if Israel shows its willingness to accept the two-state solution, follow UN resolutions and seriously participate in the peace process to achieve this goal. With two states peacefully coexisting, Israel will be safer and global Mossad operations can be a thing of the past.
Malaysia is a peace loving nation and asks other nations to respect its sovereignty. It has a strict policy against foreign interference in its internal affairs or foreign involvement in illegal activities within its borders. No state or its citizens should use Malaysia as a playground for their own conflicts. The Malaysian people and their government hope that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will end with a lasting peace in the Middle East.
Indeed, the future of Palestine worries Malaysia deeply and is embedded in its foreign policy. However, Malaysia’s national security must not be endangered. The government fears that Israel’s attacks, particularly on Hamas, have the potential to pose a serious security dilemma for Malaysia if it emerges that the Mossad is operating in the country. This issue should concern us all.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect Middle East Monitor’s editorial policies.