Malaysia opposes US on illegal Israeli settlements


Malaysia does not accept the U.S. decision on illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank of the Jordan river, the country’s Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said on Thursday.

Speaking at a news conference in Moscow, following the meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, Abdullah said the political solution is the best way to settle Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Malaysia opposes the change of the U.S. position [on the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank of the Jordan river].

“We believe that a political solution is the best way forward that will allow the settlement of relations between Palestine and Israel and the achievement of a lasting peace,” he said.

In turn, Sergey Lavrov reconfirmed Russian position on the issue, saying the U.S. stance contradicts all existing international decisions and can bring the Israeli-Palestinian settlement to a dead end.

“We will advocate a return to full and unconditional respect for all decisions that have been taken so far on the issue,” he said.

The U.S. on Monday reversed course on its position regarding Israeli settlements built in the occupied West Bank, breaking with over four decades of precedent in saying that they will no longer be viewed as illegal “per se”.

The move is highly likely to irk Palestinian officials, who have rejected a role for the U.S. in any prospective peace talks with Israel over the Trump administration’s 2017 decision to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The U.S. under President Donald Trump has since gone on to close the Palestinians’ diplomatic office in Washington and has relocated its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Roughly 650,000 Israeli Jews currently live on more than 100 settlements built since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Palestinians want these territories along with the Gaza Strip for the establishment of a future Palestinian state.

International law views both the West Bank and East Jerusalem as occupied territories and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity there illegal.

Malaysia regrets late entrance to airlines crash investigation

Turning to the downing of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Ukraine in 2014 that killed all 298 people on board, Saifuddin Abdullah said Kuala Lumpur will insist on divulging of all the details of the investigation.

He regretted that Malaysia joined the probe too late and said the country will examine all the information about the crash.

Lavrov, in turn, protested against Ukraine’s participation in the investigation, as the country is one of the “interested sides”.

The Kuala Lumpur-bound flight from Amsterdam was shot down above the troubled state of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine in 2014.

Currently the Joint Investigation Team, comprising the authorities from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands, and Ukraine, is working on identification of responsible for the downing.

Malaysia reopens embassy in North Korea

Speaking about relations with North Korea, Malaysian foreign minister said his country is going to reopen its embassy in Pyongyang next year “to encourage the peace process”.

“We want to demonstrate we are committed to promoting the peace process. We have decided to reopen the Embassy in the DPRK next year,” said Abdullah.

Russia and China drafted a new initiative on promoting peace process on the Korean Peninsula, that will soon be presented in the UN, Lavrov added.
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